Channel 4 has been attacked by Irish Travellers living in Britain after My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding was broadcast.
The Irish Travellers claimed the show fuels hatred and suspicion of the Traveller community.
Calling upon Channel 4 to give them space on air to provide a reply to the show, the Travellers described the show as a narrow portrayal and has left its community “extremely disappointed and angry.”
The organisation said: “We are hearing every day distressing accounts from parents whose children are being bullied and called names. Venue bookings are being cancelled. We are hearing about the deep sense of embarrassment and shame many have been left with by such a narrow, misrepresentative and unjust portrayal of their community and culture.”
The show has drawn around 8.7 million viewers and even has celebrity wacthers.
2008 X-Factor winner, Shayne Ward is among these viewers. The star who was born into a large Irish Traveller movement, the 26 year old said: “The moment the word ‘Traveller’ comes up is the moment people start saying horrible names. I’m glad this show paints the travelling community in a better light.” The singer said the programme has given the public a more positive image of the Gypsy and Traveller communities.
The Traveller movement has said that the show does not allow a proper example of Traveller life to be shown especially their diverse cultures and beliefs.
The programme has been reported to broadcast watchdog, Ofcom, by the Travellers’ Times. The website has argued that the portrayal of the Gypsy community is not only inaccurate but also “misleads the audience and leads to harm and offence”.
Channel 4 has defended itself against the criticism. In a statement, it said: “The series features a mix of Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies and the programme makes a clear distinction between these different groups. Whenever a person is introduced, we are careful to identify who they are and what community they come from.
“The series is an observational documentary and made predominantly from the perspective of Gypsies and Travellers talking about their own experiences.
“We have intentionally avoided many commonly held stereotypes and attempted to provide a balanced view.”
What do you think? Is the show an accurate representation of the Traveller community?