Extreme Pilgrim, Make Me a Muslim ... Never heard of any of these before!
Religion Booms on British TV
CAIRO — Feeding on a growing interest in faith, religious broadcasting in Britain is booming with media outlets increasingly producing unusual, taboo-breaking programs.
"We're on a real roll," Michael Wakelin, the head of BBC religion and ethics department, told The Guardian on Monday, September 1.
"You're talking to a man who is in a state of enthusiasm and confidence."
Religious programs are emerging as the new trend on Britain's TV with networks offering bigger budgets for reporting on different religions in the multi-cultural society.
Among the most watched TV shows over the past few years were programs like Priest Idol, Extreme Pilgrim, Make Me a Muslim and God is Black.
On the public-service TV and radio broadcaster Channel 4, programs like Britz, The Cult of the Suicide Bomber, Battle for the Holy Land and God's Waiting Room were broadcast in prime-time slots.
The BBC's Songs of Praise, a program based on traditional Christian hymns, is now running for the fifth decade on.
It is believed to be the most-watched and one of the longest-running religious television programs in the world.
"Songs of Praise is just one thing we do and that gets up to three million viewers a week," Wakelin said.
"All our commissions are massive."
Media people believe the trend of religious programs is capitalizing on a revived interest in faith in the British society.
"We're tapping into the resurgence of religion," said Wakelin, the BBC religion and ethics head.
Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, notes that there was not always such appetite in religious programming.
In the past, he contends, religion was marginal and almost entirely absent from mainstream drama, documentary and comedy.
"Except for those with a particular interest, religion was regarded as rather dull and safe," he told The Guardian.
"Across broadcasting, in our newspapers, in much of the public discourse about religion, the same set of assumptions held sway.
"In television, there was - as there always is - a lively debate about the future of current affairs, coverage of the arts, drama. I don't remember any such debate about the future of religion either on television and radio or in the press."
The role of religion in Britain has gained momentum recently.
A survey by the Christian relief and development agency Tearfund last November indicated that religion was alive and well in the British life, with two in five adult pray on a regular basis.
In April 2007, another report by Tearfund found that the majority of Britons saw Christianity playing a pivotal role in public life.
Copyright 2008 Islam Online
The Almighty Allah says,
"When a servant thinks of Me, I am near.
When he invokes Me, I am with him.
If he reflects on Me in secret, I reply in secret,
And if he acknowledges Me in an assembly,
I acknowledge him in a far superior assembly."
- Prophet Muhammad (SAW), as reptd by Abu Huraira