A 200-STRONG crowd were left wondering if they were experiencing the real life or just fantasy when broadcaster Robert Peston belted out a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody at St Barnabas Church in Jericho.

The political editor of ITV News led local group the Jericho Singers through the Queen hit on Thursday at a celebration of Oxford Canal and its heritage.

The former BBC economics editor put himself forward for the fundraising stunt on Radio 4’s PM programme to sing the famous rock anthem.

Before the performance Mr Peston gave a talk at the Blavatnik School of Government as guest speaker at Experience Oxfordshire’s annual cultural platform event where he was interviewed by journalist Tim Harford and Blavatnik Dean professor Ngaire Woods.

But it was his transformation to Freddie Mercury which stole the show.

Steph Pirrie, who played the role of the conductor for the Jericho Singers, said: “He’s a very busy man and we only had an hour-and-a-half with him to rehearse beforehand but it was really good fun and we instantly felt like a team.

“He’s not a professional singer and it’s a really hard song but he threw himself at it and we were impressed with what he achieved in such a short space of time.

She added: “We had an enormous cheer from the audience and it was great to have someone of his profile there to promote the event.”

Mrs Pirrie revealed that fellow Jericho Singer Sarah Wood wrote into BBC Radio 4’s PM show in 2015 when the show asked listeners for ideas for what activities Peston could do following the death of his wife.

Two years later he completed the request, stunning the crowd with his performance which was part of a special evening of music, stories, sounds, and sights of the canal.

Mr Peston said: “It was wonderful being on a platform with Tim Harford and Ngaire Wood – I’m their biggest fans – and quite frankly I would have paid to sing Bohemian Rhapsody with the Jericho Singers.”

He later told the Evening Standard: “As it happened I had the time of my life, though I cannot guarantee the same is true of the audience.”

Mr Harford said: “Robert was quite brilliant on both stages, I never realised he had it in him.”