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Ernie Rea

Ernie Rea presents Radio 4's discussion series Beyond Belief, which examines the place of faith in today's complex world.

He joined the BBC in 1978 as a producer in the Religious Broadcasting Department and for the next 23 years worked for the BBC in a variety of capacities. He spent three years as Head of Network Radio for the South and West of England, responsible for, among many other programmes, Any Questions?. But his most significant and challenging role was as Head of Religious Broadcasting (later renamed Head of Religion & Ethics), responsible for all of the BBC's religious programmes across radio and television, which he took up in 1989.

During the 12 years he was Head of Religious Broadcasting the department won many awards for outstanding programmes. In 1997 he was personally awarded the Gold Medal of the International Council of Christians and Jews for his outstanding contribution to Inter- Faith Understanding.

In 2001 he resigned from the BBC to pursue a career as a freelance writer and broadcaster and consultant on inter-faith issues.

Since leaving full-time employment with the BBC, he has led a project commissioned by the North West Government Office to investigate the reporting of the disturbances in Burnley and Oldham in the summer of 2001. His final report was delivered in July 2003. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Three Faiths Forum which exists to foster understanding between Muslims, Christians and Jews. He continues to broadcast and is a regular presenter on Radio 4's Act of Worship and contributor to Radio 2's Good Morning Sunday.

Ernie was born in Belfast in 1945. He graduated from Queens University Belfast with a First Class Honours degree in Theology. In 1971 he was ordained into the Presbyterian Ministry and served for three years on the Shankill Road in Belfast at the height of "The Troubles".