TV Pick| Make Bradford British – 1st March, Channel 4, 9pm
Make Bradford British is a major two-part series exploring what it means to be British.
In a speech last year Prime Minister David Cameron said that ‘state multiculturalism' has failed. Across Britain, cities are becoming increasingly divided, with people living side-by-side – but not mixing. The Yorkshire city of Bradford is multicultural. It is also segregated with a city centre that is now predominantly Asian surrounded by almost exclusively white suburbs.
Make Bradford British brings together people of different races and backgrounds for the first time, to see if they can come up with a common notion of the thread that binds them all together – what it means to be British.
The first episode airs on Thursday 1st March at 9pm with the second and concluding part on Thursday 8th March at 9pm.
To define what it means to be British the series begins with the Government's own UK Citizenship Test, the Life in the UK Test. Over 100 people from across Bradford, all British citizens, are invited to sit the test, whose questions include What percentage of the British population is under the age of 19? When were women given the right to vote?
Eight people who fail the test are then invited to live together in a microcosm of multicultural society. After debating what being a British citizen means, from exploring use of language through to accommodating religious and dietary requirements, they'll experience a side of life in Great Britain they've never seen before.
In pairs, the eight residents of Bradford, ranging from a pub-landlady to a former-magistrate, will live each other's lives. From visiting a mosque for the first time, to experiencing a traditional dinner party, each person opens their eyes to the world that exists around them, right on their doorstep. Can eight people from different worlds but the same city really define what it means to be British in 2012?
Two diversity and community experts, Taiba Yasseen and Laurie Trott, help guide the eight through the experience, to see if, by uniting people within the city, they can create a blueprint for a genuinely multicultural Great Britain.
Over two nights, Make Bradford British follows:
48 year-old mum of three Audrey is the landlady of one of the oldest pubs in the city centre, where the majority of residents are Asian. She says: "People are very resentful because there are certain segments of society that don't want to live with anybody else. My business has suffered because people don't want to come into the centre of Bradford any more. It's a ticking time bomb and all it takes is one little spark."
Sheet metal worker Damon is 24 and lives alone since splitting up with the mother of his three year old daughter. He lives in an area that's over 90 per cent white and says, "So it does look like you're in Pakistan in some places you go ‘cause all the men are wearing them baggy trousers that look like you should be going to bed in them and all the women are wearing hijabs or whatever they're called."
Seventy-one year old retired policeman Jens lives in one of Bradford's whitest areas. He says "There are so many living in Britain, particularly from the Middle East and Asia and we have to accept them as British and we do. The majority of them have integrated well but there are some who haven't and that I don't like."
Former professional Rugby League player Rashid, 37, was born and raised in the heart of Bradford's inner city Asian community. "We haven't put an application form in to be the colour we are."
Former Magistrate, Maura, 66, was born and raised in Northern Ireland. The grandmother of four has spent the past 40 years living in one of Bradford's wealthiest and whitest suburbs. "One of the most important values that Britain has to give the world is its tolerance and I think we should be intolerant of intolerance." she says.
Desmond, is one of the few black people living in one of Bradford's estates. A full-time cleaner, Desmond has four children and now lives with his partner and youngest daughter. He says he's experienced prejudice in Bradford throughout this life, including from other black people, "They used to call me Uncle Tom and stuff like that because I went round with white people." A survivor of a horrendous racially motivated attack in Bradford, Desmond's experience shows the reality of race-fuelled hate crimes.
Mum-of-one Sabbiyah, 22, studied Philosophy and Politics and is an aspiring writer. A British Muslim with Pakistani heritage, says "I was born here. I've been educated here. I'm more British than anyone that you can see. "
Mohammad, a 41 year old taxi driver, works round the clock, his customers having frequently enjoyed a night out. To him, "British-ness is going on piss ups and get bladdered really. That's what British means."
After years of living separate lives in the same area, these eight citizens of Bradford now live side by side. But how will they react when confronted with language they are used to but that others find offensive, in coming to terms with religious dietary and prayer requirements and living under one roof for the first time.
To find out more about the series, the participants, read the views of the series editor Heenan Bhatti and even take the Channel 4 Citizenship Test to see if you qualify for British citizenship, click here.
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