The Most Reverend Justin Welby said that abandoning religious programming would "cultivate ignorance".

He told the Radio Times that religious formats were the real "reality shows".

He also praised ITV's Strictly Kosher and Channel 4's show Islam: The Untold Story as examples of good religious programming.

The archbishop said: "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."

He also said that there were some who believe faith and religious life should be kept behind closed doors.