Channel 4 to feature alternative views of Christianity

By staff writers
November 14, 2008

A series exploring alternative views on Christianity will spearhead Channel 4's winter season of programmes, it was announced yesterday.

In what the broadcaster described as the most ambitious religious programming commission in its history, the series will feature eight hour-long documentaries, including interviews with, amongst others, representatives from the thinktank Ekklesia.

The documentaries will be presented by personalities including Michael Portillo, Ann Widdecombe, Rageh Omaar and Cherie Blair.

In the first programme author Howard Jacobson examines the nature of Jesus's Jewishness and Christianity's fraught relationship with its Jewish origins.

In other films in the series, Mr Portillo investigates Christianity during the time of the Roman Empire, focusing on the part that the emperor Constantine played. In the programme Ekklesia's Jonathan Bartley will talk to Michael Portillo, drawing on his book "Faith and Politics After Christendom".

Theologian Dr Robert Beckford will also look at the impact Christianity has had on Britain while Omaar fronts a documentary on Christianity's relations with Islam and the bloody legacy of the crusades.

Miss Widdecombe, who converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism, looks at the Reformation, while playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah explores how Christianity was exported "at the barrel of a gun" and leading scientist Professor Colin Blakemore examines how the scientific revolution undermined the centuries-long Biblical view of the world.

For the final instalment, Mrs Blair looks at the challenges faced by Christianity in the 20th century and asks whether, as a world religion, it has a future.

Aaqil Ahmed, a Channel 4 commissioning editor, said: "This series is an ambitious and comprehensive exploration of key chapters in the history of Christianity. Authored by a range of distinctive voices, the series will examine the impact and legacy of Christianity on Britain and the world."

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.