The BBC was today accused of deliberately provoking controversy as it announced two new programmes portraying Bradford as the front-line of a race war.

Unveiling details of its new season of dramas and documentaries entitled "White", the corporation described it as a "series of films that shine the spotlight on the white working class in Britain today "It examines why some feel increasingly marginalised and explores possible reasons behind the rise in popularity of far-right politics in some sections of this community".

But MPs and community leaders hit back and said that the publicly-funded BBC was stereotyping Bradford and that the programmes weren't helpful to social cohesion in the district.

Bradford West MP Marsha Singh said: "I am disappointed with all the negative programmes being set in Bradford and it is about time other areas are looked at as it seems to be us that are being singled out all the time."

Bary Malik, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Assoc-iation in Bradford, said: "I'm not very happy it is set in Bradford once again. Why don't they go to other multi-cultural cities? Why is it always Bradford?"

Councillor Ian Greenwood, leader of Bradford Council's Labour Group, said: "I'm speechless, over and over and over again the same stereotypes which are entirely unhelpful for the district.

"Over the years you grow sick to death of seeing things which stereotype people who are all full of prejudice. We want all people living together and that is what should be portrayed."

The season, to air on BBC2 this winter, includes a drama called White Girl, written by Bafta-award winning screenwriter Abi Morgan, who this year adapted the novel Brick Lane for the big screen.

The one-off film is about an 11-year-old girl who moves with her family to "an entirely Muslim community in Bradford and ends up wearing the hijab".

At first, says the BBC's press material, the girl and her siblings feel isolated because they are the "only white children in their school".

The announcement continues: "But she finds a refuge of calm and safety in the Muslim faith which is lacking at home.

"She is befriended by a young Asian neighbour and shocks her family by adopting Muslim dress."

The storyline is very similar to a documentary screened by Channel 4 in 2003 entitled The Last White Kids, which focused on teenager Ashleene Gallagher who lived in Manningham and began to attend her local mosque.

In the Abi Morgan film, the girl, Leah, is played by newcomer Holly Kenny, with Bleak House star Anna Maxwell Martin as her mother and Bread actress Melanie Hill as her grandmother. Jade Islam plays the young neighbour.

The other programme is a documentary called Last Orders, about the Wibsey Working Men's Club, which the BBC describe as "embattled".

The corporation says: "With high unemployment and a perception that recent Asian immigrants receive the lion's share of Government benefits, members feel that their very community is under threat and that racial tensions could erupt at any time."

Coun Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Council's Liberal Democrat Group, said: "In my experience as a councillor I find there is more to a community feeling under siege than skin colour.

"There are many sophisticated people in our district getting on with life who come under pressure from people who just behave badly and it will be interesting to see if the BBC explore that."

Keighley Labour MP Ann Cryer said: "It may be that Bradford is the best example of the problem. I do not think there is a problem concentrating on Bradford and I would not mind if they centred on Keighley.

"When I raise these issues I am called a racist or Islamaphobic. We do not achieve anything by ignoring the issue. We live in an apartheid city with the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities living separate lives, along with the Muslims and white people.

"I am not happy with this and therefore anything that raises difficult questions that get answers is a good thing."

Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies said: "I do not have a problem with the BBC doing the programmes on Bradford as it is blindingly obvious there are issues in the area. As long as they are not going out of their way to portray inaccuracies then I think it is fine."

Councillor Michael Ellis (Con, Bingley Rural), who is a member of the Council's safer and stronger communities improvement committee, said: "I think it's things like this that fuels support for the more extreme political groups. I feel that the documentary could raise serious racial tensions and feeds into the more extreme - people are often afraid of the unknown."

But BBC2 controller Roly Keating defended the season, saying: "It is BBC2's role to reflect contemporary society and this is a timely moment for us to examine the roots of this debate.

"The White season is a complex look at how life has changed for the white working class in Britain."