An RTE television interview in which the actor, writer and TV presenter Stephen Fry, above, last year denounced God as ‘utterly evil, capricious and monstrous’ appears on a list of programmes nominated for an ‘excellence in religious broadcasting’ prize’.
Fry’s The Meaning of Life interview with Gay Byrne was shortlisted for a prize in the ‘Interview of the Year’ section of a scheme run by Sandford St Martin Trust.
According to its website, the trust exists to:
Promote thought-provoking, distinctive programming that deals with religion, ethics and spirituality. Through its annual awards, the Trust promotes excellent broadcasting about all faiths, from major networks, independents and online sources, at local and national level.
Has The Meaning of Life any chance of winning an award? No, because a shorter shortlist of six has been drawn up by The Radio Times, working in conjunction the Sandford St Martin Trust, and The Meaning of Life is missing. Instead readers are offered the chance to vote for programmes such as The Ark and Songs of Praise From the Jungle.
The winners are due to be announced at a ceremony at Lambeth Palace, in London, on 8 June.
In reporting that The Meaning of Life had been shortlisted by the Trust, the Guardian quoted the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds and chair of the Sandford St Martin Trust, above, as saying that the awards were particularly important in the context of BBC Charter renewal and the possible privatisation of Channel 4 and that:
Religion needs to be taken more seriously by the BBC in its future shape and remit.
Religion is a primary motivator of individuals and communities, inspiring and informing their political, economic, ethical and social behaviour.
The BBC’s Lyse Doucet added:
Religion, and belief in general, is one of the most important threads in some of the big issues of our time. People’s faith is, in some places, divisive and destructive but in others it is a source of strength and solidarity. The awards recognise the growing importance of understanding all faiths and people of no faith.
Last December, in a piece entitled “Why is the BBC so uninterested in religion“, Sandford St Martin trustee Torin Douglas lamented the fact that:
The BBC’s religious output on TV has shrunk considerably from a decade ago … BBC TV’s lack of interest in religious broadcasting – even at Christmas – doesn’t surprise me. In our recent submission to the BBC Trust on the review of the BBC Charter, we took the Corporation to task for its failure to take seriously – or even understand – its obligations in this area, at a time when it is widely acknowledged that religious literacy has never been more important.