I found the first in the newest Channel 4 series, “Big Fat Gypsy Weddings” a lot more interesting than last year’s snapshot. Channel 4 has definitely improved upon their access from their last attempt, but it is not true that Travellers are reluctant to discuss their views and culture. I have found them remarkably open, welcoming and straight-forward. This programme seemed to feature more views of Travellers rather than a heavy focus on dressmaking, but the aim (again) was to leave the viewer wide-eyed and open-mouthed as they marvel at scantily clad girls and enormous dresses. I was sceptical that some of the customs being discussed (i.e. grabbing) may not be commonplace throughout the wider Traveller community. In the same vein, it was mentioned that there is a difference between the Roma and Irish Travellers (who in my experience, do not like to be called Gypsies), but thus far, no differentiation has been made between the two cultures.
In its opening, the series promises that it will cover all aspects of Traveller life. I look forward to seeing a more far-reaching portrayal in the upcoming programmes, moving beyond the superficial and focussing more directly on the motivations behind their choice to live outside the mainstream, as well as on the issues that threaten the Gypsy and Traveller way of life. Definitely tune in tomorrow to see coverage of Dale Farm and the evictions at Hovefields.
For a more subtle and less sensationalised portrayal of Traveller weddings, please check out Mary Turner’s excellent photo essay on the weddings of several Dale Farm residents.Click here to hear Dale Farm residents talk about weddings.
Posted By Susan Craig-Greene
Posted Jan 24th, 2011