Make A Date For My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (Channel 4, Tuesdays 9pm) is an astonishing, total-access documentary series that reveals how travellers and gypsies--traditionally an intensely private community--run their lives in 21st century Britain. An extension of last year’s one off nuptial-based film, the first episode (of five) acts as a catch up. We’re reintroduced to Thelma Madine, the Liverpool-based dress designer who constructs traveller brides’ (usually wide-eyed teenagers) dream frocks. Often weighing more than their owners, Madine’s dresses aren’t so much meringues as mountainous, jewelled Pavlovas. Her creations often leave scars, which the girls wear like medals.

As with the original documentary, the outlandish clothing is the big draw, and not just the wedding garb. Despite travellers embracing a moral code so rigorous it wouldn’t look out of place in Saudi Arabia, unmarried teenage girls dress like pole dancers, ruffling their feathers at boys whenever they get the chance, which, as it happens, isn’t very often. Weddings are virtually the only opportunity for the sexes to interact without feeling a chaperone’s breath on the back of their neck. Outside the wedding party armistice, single females who have lone dealings with males risk ruining their reputation and not finding a husband, which most aim to do long before their twenties. The rule doesn’t apply to men, of course, though this contradiction is only touched on briefly and with the lightest caress.

With a series’ worth of screen hours to fill, this programme burns slower than the original. Space is given to observe the male/female dynamic, including a forced-kissing/mild molestation custom known as “grabbing”. It’s an uncomfortable revelation and most viewers won’t be able to watch without feel desperately sorry for the girls, whose lifestyles are already so prescribed. They accept, without question, that it’s their job to fend off boys’ (sometimes violent) advances. You’ll wonder why these lads, who are filmed in action, aren’t given a good verbal tackling. It seems odd, especially when in an earlier scene, one crew member goes out of his way to inform a groom that he’s just used a racial slur. But the (comparatively) small stuff is more easily dealt with.

Most of the time the filmmakers scrupulously avoid adopting a hypercritical tone, presumably to ensure they’re granted access to details like “grabbing”. The pay off for not judging or intervening is an opening instalment that’s every bit as meaty and mesmeric as last year’s offering, and not just because of the dazzling Disney princess frocks.

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I watched the original documentary and was actually looking forward to this show (yup, I am that sad!). What I saw horrified me. The male/female dynamic that seemed quaint in the first documentary took a really sinister turn in last night's show. Examples? The young girls citing a husband not beating you as a criteria for a good husband and the 'grabbing' ritual which in the non traveler community, would surely result in a conviction of ABH if not sexual assault?? My take on it : http://j.mp/h2Te09
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Julie, obviously the "Dolly's" write film reviews for The Independent!
Shame their computers don't have spellcheckers!
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Julie, obviously the "Dolly's" write film reviews for The Independent!
Shame their computers don't have spellcheckers!
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Below is the funniest comment I've ever read. Is it another language? Can anyone understand it? LOL
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look dolly house cop ur self on u sick youngone only obvious ya havr to get grabbed i wouldnt have a youngfella asking me to go out wit him dats just desprate cos u would jump at it us travellers have to get grabbed cos we arent country people like u country girl god love u ur sick and anyways its not like dey do anythink to ya dere not peodos u dopey ass and cope ur self on english crum ur one to talk doll wit users going around acting like ur gods gift wen ur worser dan what we r at least us irish have manners and class
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omg cant bleve im reading this cant bleve this is getting shown on telly good thing in 1 way coz now the police might get involved and these boys will get clast as pedos as this is what thay are when thay do there grabbing i am a gypsy girl and wouldent allow this and the girls that do are not cleen and desent travling girls the boys that do this are ushawely irish witch are not gypsys and the other boys that do it are wonna be irish SCUM this dose happin but some times thay get more than thay bargin for
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