People in Britain too 'embarrassed' to talk about faith says BBC's Bill Turnbull

Bill Turnbull Twitter selfie with presenter Susanna ReidBill Turnbull/Twitter

The BBC Breakfast presenter who is being replaced by committed Christian Dan Walker has regretted that people in Britain are too "embarrassed" to talk about their faith.

Bill Turnbull, who like Walker is a regular churchgoer, said one of the things he'll do more of when he leaves Breakfast behind is go to church.

He has, in the past, led evensong at his local church.

He told Radio Times that it was a shame that it was so unusual for prominent television presenters to talk about their faith.

"I always say I have faith. I have very strong beliefs. But we are embarrassed in Britain about [saying that]. When we lived in America it was the exception not to go to church. Church was absolutely packed and it was wonderful. But here there's something about our culture that makes people feel as if they have to apologise for having faith. I think people are actually a lot more religious than they let on. I think secretly, within their hearts, they have beliefs that they keep to themselves."

Devout Christian Dan Walker (right) is replacing Bill TurnbullReuters

He hands over to Dan Walker at the end of this month. The show has about six million viewers each day. Walker's conservative views, such as his belief in creationism, have been criticised since the news of his appointment made known.

This week's Radio Times includes interview with the departing BBC Breakfast star Bill Turnbull

Turnbull however defended faith, and compared the UK to the United States, where he said it was easier to be open about having a faith.

"I prefer the fact that there you don't have to apologise for being religious. I don't know why people want to make you feel so awkward about having belief. I don't understand it. Sometimes here if you express a belief in God, people will say: 'Oh I'm sorry, I just swore.' They treat you as if you're lily white. That's just ridiculous. I'm as human as the next person – my friends certainly know that."

Turnbull, who went to Eton with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Prime Minister David Cameron and many other prominent members of society, said one low point of his 15-year presenting stint was a 2008 interview from Poole harbour with Bill Oddie, at the end of which Turnbull said he hoped Oddie would fall into the sea.

About knowing Archbishop Welby at Eton, he said: "When Justin was appointed, I remember thinking: 'He looks familiar', and then when I did an interview with him, I said: 'Were you – the phrase is – "at school"?' He said yes. We worked out we were both in Mr Armstrong's class for English A-level, but we never actually spoke."

Turnbull is leaving Breakfast but not TV. He will continue to be a presenter of the BBC's Sunday flagship Songs of Praise.