Leeds & West Yorkshire

Make Bradford British documentary is 'unfair image' of city

Bradford council leader Ian Greenwood
Image caption Council leader Ian Greenwood said the city now felt much more united

A television documentary focusing on racial differences in Bradford has been criticised by community leaders who say the city has been unfairly targeted.

Channel 4's Make Bradford British puts people from different ethnicities together to see if they can find common ground on what makes them British.

Council leader Ian Greenwood said he was "sick to death" of TV companies portraying the city in a "bad light".

Channel 4 said it aimed to overcome stereotypes and preconceptions.

Mr Greenwood said the programme appeared, which airs on 1 March, to be aimed at reinforcing the stereotype of Bradford as being deeply segregated.

He said: "There is no doubt that we have problems the same as any community - but my view is we can resolve these problems together within Bradford.

"What we don't need is people stereotyping us and leaving the city."

He added: "Bradford is a place of immigration.

"For a long time we've had wave after wave of people coming to look for socio-economic advancement, to look for a good job, to look to do better for the family."

Jane Vincent, co-founder of Positive Bradford, said: "I'm keeping my options open because I haven't seen the programme.

"What does concern me is that it's Bradford again. Why isn't it Make Birmingham British or some other city? It's unfair.

"From seeing the trailers, they've done the typical extremist viewpoint. That doesn't represent real Bradford."

'Positive' experience

Zulfi Karim, general secretary of Bradford Council for Mosques, said: "The title in itself does give us cause for concern as it implies that there is something inherently unBritish about our city and nothing could be further from the truth.

"However, we will be prepared to reserve judgement and comment once we have seen the full programme."

The Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, said: "Whether we regard the Channel 4 portrayal of Bradford as fair or not, it provides us with an opportunity to discuss not only what we can improve on, but also to express the good things about Bradford."

The programme involves eight people from different races and backgrounds who live together to see if they can uncover shared values in what it means to be British.

Image caption The programme involves eight 'housemates' from different races and backgrounds

One of the participants, Sabbiyah Pervez, said she had found the experience on the whole to be positive.

She said: "A lot of people say 'why Bradford?' which is fair enough but at the same time you have to understand the issues in Bradford.

"It's always been an interesting city and that's why people go back to it.

"There are so many different communities in one area and segregation is a fact. We've got to recognise that and talk about it rather than deny it.

"The programme deals with issues on a common ground and there was a lot of positives to come out of it."

A Channel 4 spokesperson said the documentary was based in Bradford because "it is perceived to have one of the more segregated populations in the UK".

The spokesperson said: "We're not saying that Bradford hasn't worked very hard to address issues of segregation, but the title is designed to stimulate debate about Britishness and refers to a group of people who previously led segregated lives in Bradford, coming together to see if they can find a common notion of what it means to be British."

The second part of Make Bradford British is on Channel 4 at 21:00 GMT on 8 March.

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