BBC withdraws controversial immigration film with South Asian characters

It had animated images of South Asian characters in turbans and women in saris with a voiceover claiming that Britain was "multicultural long before curry and carnival".

Published: 04th August 2018 12:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th August 2018 12:34 AM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose only


LONDON: The BBC has been forced to withdraw a documentary film which had animated images of South Asian characters aimed at making schoolchildren more aware about the country's immigration debate, it emerged today.

The YouTube video, part of a 'Don't Hate the Debate' series attracted complaints about a particular section which said the debate around immigration had fuelled a "huge rise" in support for far-right politics.

It had animated images of South Asian characters in turbans and women in saris with a voiceover claiming that Britain was "multicultural long before curry and carnival".

Migration Watch UK, an immigration research think tank, challenged the "lack of balance" and a number of "factual inaccuracies" in the video, aimed at 14-16-year-olds.

Chairman Lord Green wrote to Sir David Clementi, Chairman of the BBC, last month pointing out that the video failed to provide an objective analysis of the immigration debate and therefore did not meet the BBC's own impartiality guidelines.

"Net migration to the UK has been running at a quarter of a million per year over the past decade and nearly two-thirds of the public wish to see a reduction.

Polling makes clear that most people in the UK are not opposed to immigration per se, but they are concerned (we think rightly) about its present scale, which is surely unsustainable," the letter said.

"Yet the overall impression of the video is that anyone who questions its current scale is unreasonable and prejudiced."

The head of BBC Education responded and said that the BBC would withdraw the video with a view to re-editing it.

"While we believe the film did convey the broad elements of the immigration debate, we accept further efforts could have been made to involve contributors with a more diverse range of opinions, so we removed the video," a BBC spokesperson said.

Lord Green welcomed the decision, adding that: "We have offered the BBC our assistance in producing an accurate and unbiased teaching aid on a very topical and important issue."

The documentary was part of a series of films designed to help teachers enable classroom debates about topical issues. Each film includes a real debate between four young people, all giving views on a particular topic. In the immigration-related debate, which has now been withdrawn, the animated characters were heard saying: "Think immigration is a recent thing? Think again."

"Because you see, you got the Celts, the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings, the Normans, the Flemish, the Irish, black Britons and Jewish people.Yep, we were multicultural long before curry and carnival – it's in our DNA."

It further highlighted that there is no such thing as "pure Briton".

"Despite what some flag wielders would have you believe, the average Briton is only 36 per cent Anglo-Saxon," it said.

Migration Watch UK countered that percentage, claiming that the average British person's DNA is "at least 90 per cent European".

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp