07/12/2015 08:22 GMT | Updated 21/12/2015 10:59 GMT

BBC Face Criticism Over Lack Of Religious Programmes In Christmas Schedules

The BBC are facing criticism over this year’s Christmas scheduling, thanks to the fact that there are just four hours of original religion-themed shows set to air.

Alongside the four hours of original content, two repeats will air, however as MailOnline reports, this still means shows with a religious focus make up just 3% of the BBC’s festive schedule.

'Songs Of Praise' will be returning

The original shows will be 'Midnight Mass', 'Carols From Kings' and 'On Angels Wings' , reports the Express, and they'll be screened alongside new episodes of 'The Big Christmas Sing' and 'Songs of Praise'.

Andrea Williams, Christian Concern’s chief executive, has discussed the BBC’s decision with the Sunday Express, telling the paper: “Surely it’s not too much to ask that, amongst all the Christmas specials and repeats, our national broadcaster give us some opportunity to remember the events of that first Christmas and their enduring significance?

“It will be tragic if the BBC buries all that out of some misplaced secular anxiety and denies people the chance to reflect on the Christmas message of hope and goodwill.”

A BBC spokesman has responded, stating: “As ever, the BBC will offer audiences a wide mix of religious programming this Christmas including major and much-loved broadcasts for Midnight Mass and the Christmas Day service on BBC One and Carols from Kings on BBC Two.”

“Radio highlights include the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, Christmas Eve on Radio 4, as part of Radio 3’s Northern Lights season Andrew Brown writes for The Essay on Radio 3 Christmas night and Clare Balding presents Good Morning live on Christmas Day, Radio 2.

'”These are accompanied by a wide variety of programming across TV and radio throughout the Christmas period, offering audiences a range of ways to celebrate with the BBC.”

The fresh debate comes just days after the BBC were forced to defend a controversial joke about a Muslim man, that appears in ‘The Catherine Tate Show’ Christmas special.

Viewers will see Catherine’s Nan character joke that a man carrying a prayer mat and bag is a terrorist, and following criticism from groups including the Islamic Centre of England, the Beeb defended the joke’s inclusion.

“Nan is a comedy character well known to BBC audiences for her outrageous views, language and behaviour,” a spokesperson said. "Her views do not hold accord with a more enlightened world as the programme makes clear."

Photo gallery Christmas 2015 on BBC One See Gallery