Paul Revoir, Daily Mail (London), June 22, 2009
One of Radio 2’s most popular religious presenters has launched a stinging attack on the BBC suggesting the broadcaster is biased against Christianity.
Don Maclean, 66, who hosted Good Morning Sunday for 16 years, said the broadcaster was ‘keen’ on programmes that attack the Christian church.
He said programming chiefs were keen to take a ‘negative angle at every opportunity’ in a way they do not with other faiths like Islam.
Mr Maclean said programmes about Anglicanism on the BBC always discuss gay clergy and for Catholicism they always mention paedophiles.
The presenter, who was replaced on the Radio 2 show in 2006 by Aled Jones, claimed the broadcaster was trying to ‘secularise the country’.
He admitted that he was dismayed that the BBC recently appointed Aaqil Ahmed, a Muslim, as its new head of religious programming.
Mr Maclean, who was replaced by Aled Jones on the show, also accused the BBC of ageism saying that if you are over 60 and have not died ‘they get upset’.
His comments come amid claims that the broadcaster is facing a confrontation with the Church of England over its recent appointment of Ahmed.
Concerns over the TV executive, who was poached from Channel 4, are set to be raised in a church document to be published today, according to reports.
It is suggested that the document will call his appointment to the BBC ‘worrying’ and accuses the corporation of treating religion like a ‘freak show’.
Mr Maclean said: ‘They’re keen on Islam, they’re keen on programmes that attack the Christian church.
‘I know there are things that need to be brought forward, but you don’t see any programmes on Anglicanism that don’t talk about homosexual clergy and you don’t see anything on Roman Catholicism that don’t talk about paedophiles.
‘They seem to take the negative angle every time. They don’t do that if they’re doing programmes on Islam. Programmes on Islam are always supportive.
‘I’m not against anybody’s right to practise their religion and I think we need to talk sensibly to people who practise the Islamic religion.’
The presenter claimed ‘the last thing we want is war on the streets’ adding that ‘we need all the moderate Muslims to stand up and be counted’.
He added: ‘They’re all in private telling you how dreadful they think Islamic terrorism is, but they’re not forming together in a group and standing up against it.
‘But it’s as big a threat as Nazism was in the 1930s when Germans stood back and didn’t stand up against that, and if they had maybe the Second World War wouldn’t have started.’
The presenter who shot to fame on BBC children’s show Crackerjack in the 1970s claimed there was a broader move against Christianity in the UK.
He said: ‘I think there’s a secularist movement in this country to get rid of Christianity. Something must be done.’
Maclean claimed the man that was replaced as religious broadcasting chief at the BBC, Michael Wakelin, was a Methodist and a ‘very devout Christian’.
The actor and comedian said that Wakelin had been the ‘man for the job’, but added: ‘Presumably he was too ardent in his Christianity and they wanted rid of him.’
The presenter said when he had presented Good Morning Sunday he argued with bosses who claimed the show was a ‘multi-faith’ programme.
He added: ‘I said ‘No, it’s a Christian programme because the presenter is a practising Christian and this is a Christian country, so it’s a Christian programme.’
At the time he left Maclean received around 4000 letters from listeners expressing disappointment at his departure.
He said: ‘I didn’t leave; I got the sack. But that was because, if you’re over 60 and you haven’t died, the BBC get upset.’
Maclean, who is a practising Catholic, has been married for 42 years to Toni and has two children and three grandchildren.
He is performing a UK tour of The Variety Magic Show from June 27 until September 21 with comedian Jimmy Cricket and singer Dana.