Channel 4’s Make Leicester British, was a continuation of the highly criticized programme Make Bradford British, and had again caused divided opinion with many arguing the show is a misrepresentation of life in the city.
The programme took eight people from different backgrounds from the area of Leicester, and aired these people spending a week together, drawing similarities to the programme Big Brother.
Yet again Channel 4 had decided to centralize the programme around the sensitive issue of immigration, and what being ‘British’ means. In my opinion it is quite obvious that this will remain one question which will never be answered. With the meaning of being ‘British’ ambiguous, meaning different things to different people, from a broad spectrum of excessive tea drinking to the pride in Her Majesty the Queen.
However, C4 found it necessary to ask the question, one that with the rise of UKIP is very much on the tounges of the British public. Although I sat through the viewing and did cringe the whole way through, I did learn some valuable lessons which I feel everybody should take on board.
1. Everything is not black and white
I understand it’s hard not to let your own influences and experiences formulate your opinion on things, but understand that mostly things do not look as they seem. Everyone has a story and there is no point in jumping to conclusions by adhering to stereotypes. That in no way makes you better person and just makes you look arrogant.
An example in the programme being when the participants spent a few days in each other’s life, gaining an understanding of each other . In this instance the participants had their opinions challenged and became far more sympathetic of each other’s situations.
2. It does not matter if you consider yourself ‘British’ or not
The reason I say this is because there are far more important things in life other than categorizing people as ‘British’ or not. In Britain we live as a society, and it does not matter where we come from so long as we get along.
Life is too short to be worrying whether we fit in the acceptable category of being ‘British’, so long as we are considerate and kind and not discriminatory against people. I see there no reason to be arguing over the value of being ‘British’ so long as people are sympathetic of each other.
This lesson was made evident when a Lithuanian flag was placed outside the house, and Suki an Asian member of the group was angered that a British flag was not placed there instead. Eduardos a Lithuanian then argued that this flag should also be respected as much as the British flag. Segal the Somalian member of the group then said that both flags should be placed there representing both flags as equals.
From this it was made clear that the value of being ‘British’ should not take precedence over any other culture, because every culture should be understood and respected, this being the only way to live in coexistence.
3. It’s not enough being tolerant, you need to be considerate
Lastly, the biggest lesson to be learnt is the notion of consideration for each other. By just being tolerant is not enough, because you learn to just live with each other and gain no relationship with people, and as a result formulate your own opinion on society. Therefore, it is vital to be considerate, knowing people and having an understanding of people before having an opinion.
Although the programme is highly criticised and does deal with sensitive issues such as immigration in a distasteful manner, there are lessons to be learnt. Aside from singling out the bad in these types of programmes we should also look at the good. In this instance, we learned that social cohesion is possible, and in order to do this we should start by bettering ourselves before placing judgement on others. This in turn allows us to reflect on our understanding of people, challenging the stereotypes and making us think for ourselves, hopefully making us a better and happy society.