Travelers are hitting out at the makers of “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding,” saying Channel Four is exploiting them.
A British TV show, made by Channel Four, following the wedding plans of members from the Irish traveling and Roma Gypsy communities is causing outrage. Those representing the Irish traveling community say they are misrepresented in the documentary.
Martin Collin from Pavee Point, a group that promotes the human rights of travelers said, "It is not representative of the traveler -- or Roma, or gypsy -- communities either in Ireland or the UK. In fact, I would suggest that it is quite exploitative of travelers.
"The only agenda that is being served here is the agenda of Channel Four."
Irish travelers living in Britain have already attacked the show, claiming that it fuels hatred of the traveler community. They are not seeking a time from Channel 4 for a right to reply.
The group said they are left feeling "extremely disappointed and angry" by the show.
They 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, mis-representative and unjust portrayal of their community and culture."
It is their belief that the examples used in the series need to be contextualized, and the group deserves a chance to describe their diverse cultures and beliefs.
Romany Gypsies are also complaining that the series seems to convey that there are only Irish travelers in Britain. “The Travellers Times” points out that only 10% of travelers in Britain are Irish. They have also reported the show to the British broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom. They say the show "misleads the audience and leads to harm and offense.”
Channel 4 defended the program in a statement which reads, "The series features a mix of Irish travelers and Romany Gypsies and the program 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 travelers talking about their own experiences.
"We have intentionally avoided many commonly held stereotypes and attempted to provide a balanced view."
The British documentary had record viewer numbers with an average of 8 million tuning in every week. This week the show had more views than the Brits music awards, the U.K. equivalent of the Grammys.