Mixed Britannia: Telling the story of mixed race Britain

Thursday 6 October 2011, 15:00

George Alagiah George Alagiah Presenter

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I guess there are two ways of approaching a TV production: knowing exactly what you want to say and finding the people who fit into the mould, or telling the story you discover as you go along.

There's always going to be a bit of an overlap, but in the case of Mixed Britannia on BBC Two I'd say it was definitely the latter.

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The British Eugenics tests

But for me the primary question all three programmes had to answer was slightly different.

What does it say about all of us, the British, that we have ended up in this remarkable place where our mixed race population is growing faster than just about any other comparable country?

Britain was subject to the same pressures and prejudices as America or Germany (the influence of the eugenicists is an example) but we avoided the worst excesses of those countries.

I'm not naïve enough to believe this was the result of enlightened politics - there were plenty of bigots here - but I do think there was something unique in the British experience, the history of empire and trade, which meant we took a different approach.

Mixed Britannia is as much a history of Britain as it is a story about those brave people who dared to find fun, friendship, and love across a forbidden frontier.

George Alagiah is the presenter of Mixed Britannia.

Read George Alagiah's views on being mixed race in Britain on the BBC Magazine.

Mixed Britannia is a three-part series on BBC Two starting on Thursday, 6 October at 9pm as part of the Mixed Race Season.

For further programme times, please visit the upcoming episodes page.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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    Comment number 1.

    Not much has really changed since those far off days. My wife is Hong Kong Chinese holding a British National Overseas passport (her full British passport having been taken away due to fears of Britain being overrun by Chinese). We have been together for 16 years and married for 8 yet the process we had to go through for me to bring her with me to my homeland was onerous and invasive to be polite about it. Even after all we went through to get "permission" for us to live together we were only granted 27 months and have to go through it all again in a year's time. I thought we had learned the lessons of the past and were a true multi-racial society. I have only one polite answer to that - poppycock !

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    Comment number 2.

    Why is the BBC wasting money on a such a broken and forgotten about subject at a time when the Government is trying to save tax payers money ? Multiculturalism does not work in this country. Mr. Cameron is right about that. Expensive and long winded television reports of this sort only add to everyone's misery. I am not a member of BNP or some other organisation of that sort but I can see why they are gaining so much ground in a country where rioting in the streets or other unrest is considered to be normal. Perhaps it might have been a more appropriate to show someone slapping their own bald head to music ? Someone in the background to singing with words like "Lah ! Lah ! La La La !. The deep fried Mars bar could be discussed by someone like Raymond Blanc as a way of showing that multiculturalism works in England.

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    Comment number 3.

    Thank you for providing me with interesting and vital background information for my dissertation. As a British girl who is currently in a relationship with a guy from Pakistan, I have become increasingly interested in multiculturalism and cultural hybridity. I find the subject rather interesting, and dream of the day of when I and my partner will have children. I have learnt a lot already in this first episode and very much looking forward to the other two episodes!

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    Comment number 4.

    My grandmother (Welsh) married my grandfather (west indian) in 1921 and she also related to me how difficult it was in those days. Often she would not be served in shops and was often rebuked in the street. I always felt she was a person ahead of the times. When I was in school as a small child often my teachers would make nasty comments about my family in front of the whole class. Myself I felt nothing was abnormal I was brought up in a very loving family environment and as my grandparents had 9 children they related that it was very difficult for them too. However, later in years the family was respected by the community. It was felt in the past that people of different ethenicity was coming in and taking the jobs of the british people yet nothing has changed this is still being said and people actually believe this. When will people actually realise that if they want to work it is there. Multicultural society has actually provided so much to this country and we should learn by the past that these people have so much to offer. If we did not have them many businesses would not survive. Where would we be without this?

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    Comment number 5.

    The programme was really informative and revealed the truth behind mixed marriages. I have been in a mixed marriage for nearly 30 years with two great sons and one grandchild, mixed West Indian, Italian and British! I remember my Father telling me that mixed race children grew up muddled, not knowing where they belong. This has certainly never been the case and my family is a happy, enriched and loving one. I take my hat off to all those women who were strong enough to withstand the ridiculous onlslaught they had to put up with for loving another human being of their choice. Well done BBC, about time the truth was heard.


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