Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Fury at Make Bradford British programme
7:00am Friday 2nd March 2012 in News
Channel Four has been condemned by the leader of Bradford Council for the “deliberately provocative” title of its controversial documentary Make Bradford British which was screened last night.
Council leader Ian Greenwood said the title implied that Bradford was not British – an inference he found “deeply offensive”.
The programme, described by its producers as a ‘social experiment’, involved eight people in the Bradford district – Damon, Sabbiyah, Desmond, Audrey, Jens, Mohammed, Maura and Rashid – and posed the question of what it means to be British.
More than 100 people across the city were asked to answer questions similar to those used in the UK Citizenship test for the series before eight of them were chosen to live together Big Brother-style.
Coun Greenwood said the Council had refused to let Channel Four producers hold a preliminary screening of the documentary in one of its buildings.
He said: “If we had let them use a building we would have been effectively saying that we agreed with the programme that Bradford is not British.
“We spoke to Channel Four when we saw the rough cut of the final programme some weeks ago and made it absolutely clear that we were unhappy about the title and some of the content.
“In general the ordinary Bradfordian behaved pretty well in spite of the programme makers, not because of them.
“I know they (the producers) had their own agenda. Some of the people who initially accepted had more common sense than producers thought and saw us before the programme was made.
“They wanted to put together a bunch of people who would fall out with each other.
“The whole point about Bradford is that it is made up of people whose cultural heritage is Bradford.”
Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, the Council’s Liberal Democrat group leader, said it was clear the programme makers were aiming to stoke controversy. She also revealed how programme makers stopped her in the street, but rejected her as not being suitable.
“Let’s face it ‘Make Tunbridge Wells British’ would not make interesting television,” said Coun Sunderland.
“The title is deliberately provocative to get people to watch it.”
Speaking before the programme was aired, she said: “It will be interesting to see lots of people who come together to share a space in time and to see how it changes them, if indeed it does.
“We have some very intelligent sophisticated people who can move in and out of people’s cultures, but I suspect they were not the ones that they (Channel Four) wanted.
“I was rejected in the process and assumed I wasn’t really the right sort of person for it.”
Conservative group leader, Councillor Glen Miller, said that he did not watch the programme because he had better things to do.
“This is just a thing for Channel Four to raise expectations and cause more publicity in the local and national press,” he said.
“The title is provocative in its own words. I think they have set it up to get people to shout and scream about it.
“I haven’t met anybody so far in favour of it and hope that the residents of Bradford did not watch it.”
A Channel Four spokesman has previously said that the programme was a carefully-considered and responsible documentary series which aimed to overcome stereotypes and preconceptions, to uncover the shared values and common ground in what it means to be ‘British’.
On Coun Greenwood’s comments, the spokesman added: “We sometimes hold preview screenings and did consider holding one in Bradford.
“Although we ended up not previewing it, we hope that the people of Bradford watch, so they are able to make up their own minds about it.
“The title is designed to stimulate debate about what it means to be British. The ‘Make British’ refers to finding the things that people have in common that makes them all identify with feeling British.”
Two of the participants, Audrey Coyne, the 48-year-old licensee of The Boy and Barrel pub in Westgate, Bradford, and Rashid Mahmood Khan have said being involved in the programme was a “very good experience”.