Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, has said that TV programmes about religion are more important than ever and are the real "reality shows".
Writing in the new issue of Radio Times magazine, Welby said: "We are more than just material beings: we are also spiritual beings. Religious broadcasting can, without embarrassment or spectacle, tackle the big stuff in life: death, love, fear, forgiveness, doubt, conviction, and how we relate to one another as human beings."
Praising the programmes shortlisted for the RT Readers’ Award in the Sandford St Martin Trust religious broadcasting awards, Welby said: "While exploring the intimacy of our human experience, religious broadcasting – at its best – does something else equally important: it teaches us about each other. These are reality shows."
Welby said an increasingly multicultural society makes religious programming even more important. "For adults over a certain age who received little in the way of religious education at school – especially of an inter-faith variety – religious broadcasting is likely to be their best guide to the different faiths, not just of the people they see on the news but of the people they meet at the school gates, or queue next to at the post office.
"It's essential that we support broadcasting that teaches us about those around us. Telling stories about ourselves and others, in a way that celebrates the full scope of what it means to be human: that for me is what makes a reality show."
Read more from Justin Welby in the new issue of Radio Times magazine, in shops today.