UK: the TV experiment that aims to change perceptions and prejudice

UK: the TV experiment that aims to change perceptions and prejudice

Via the Guardian:
Rashid is a devout Muslim whose insistence on praying five times a day in the mosque led to tensions in the house as his prayer schedule made it difficult for him to discharge house duties such as buying food for the evening meal. He shared a room with 24-year-old sheet metal worker Damon, who lives in a predominantly white part of the city. "Bradford is very segregated," he told me. "There are white areas and Asian areas and you just grow up not having any reason to mix."

The eight participants in Make Bradford British spent four days living in a shared house, then split into pairs and spent time with each others' families. "I have lived in Bradford for more than 30 years and I have never been invited by an Asian to have Sunday lunch or a cup of tea," said Audrey, 48, who runs a pub in the city centre.

That kind of segregation has potentially dangerous consequences, as ignorance breeds resentments. In the series, Mohammed, a 45-year-old taxi driver, describes his vision of Britishness as "getting bladdered on a Saturday night", while Audrey said that Bradford was a "ticking bomb. I'm a publican, I speak to the public every day and there is an undercurrent. People say things in private or in a bar but they wouldn't say it publicly because they might be labelled racist."

In the series there is a hint of these undercurrents, when 71-year-old retired police officer Jens recalls the time he joked with an Asian colleague that he was going "Paki-bashing"; the incident leads to a painful discussion about the consequences of using hateful language.

The programme-makers say that the purpose of the series was to see whether people from different religions, backgrounds and cultures could live together and in doing so find out what it means to be British.