My Week as a Muslim – Channel 4

This week I looked at “My Week As a Muslim” – a one-off Channel 4 documentary that follows Katie, a middle-aged mother with some very controversial views on the Muslim community and culture, she “admitted she would be scared to sit beside a woman wearing a burka, and reckoned they should be banned” (1). To try and alter Katie’s questionable views, she is taken to live with a Muslim family for one week, the twist is, through the use of prosthetics she is transformed into a British-Pakistani Muslim woman and must live as one for the week. The show was broadcast at 9pm on the 23rd of October. The reasoning for this specific time is stated on Channel 4’s commissioning page, 9pm is the “home for Britain’s most talented documentary directors” and that the channel is “always looking for films that reflect contemporary Britain in a compelling and often entertaining way” (2)

Channel 4’s remit states they are to be “innovative and distinctive, stimulate public debate, reflect cultural diversity and inspire change in people’s lives.” (3) I would say that this documentary in particular sticks to that remit perfectly, for example, the subject of the documentary which is Katie herself, has her own views on the Muslim culture completely changed by the end of the film, therefore inspiring a change in her life.  As for the public response, the programme’s controversial subject caused widespread debate over Social Media and spanning ranged reviews, with the Independent going as far to call it “racist” by using “blackface” [4]. While on the opposite side of the debate, the Telegraph  said it “was a privileged insight into what it’s like being Muslim in Britain today” and “that ignorance really is the breeding ground of prejudice and hate.” I agree with the Telegraphs opinion as the documentary shows how Muslim people are just as normal as anyone else, and it is just the ignorance of the people that causes so much hate towards their culture.

To conclude – was the programme successful?
Well, going by Channel 4’s remit, Yes; The documentary ticked all the boxes for the Channel and timeslot. If we’re going off how audiences received it, no. The producer, Fozia Khan, had to go as far as writing an article defending the programme, saying it was made “to educate, rather than offend”(5).

 

References

(1) O’Donovan, G. (2017). My Week as a Muslim was a privileged insight into what it’s like being Muslim in Britain today, review. [online] The Telegraph.
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/0/week-muslim-privileged-insight-like-muslim-britain-today-review/ [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].

 

(2) Channel4.com. (2017). Documentaries – Channel 4 – Info – Commissioning. [online]
Available at: http://www.channel4.com/info/commissioning/4producers/documentaries [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
(3) Channel4.com. (2017). What is Channel 4? | C4 Corporate. [online]
Available at: https://www.channel4.com/corporate/about-4/who-we-are/what-is-channel-4 [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
(4) Lusher, A. (2017). Channel 4 mocked for blacking up white woman to disguise her as Muslim. [online] The Independent.
Available at:  http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/my-week-as-a-muslim-channel-4-documentary-black-up-brownface-row-white-woman-islamophobia-racism-a8016911.html [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
(5) Khan, F. (2017). I produced My Week As a Muslim. Its intention was to educate, not offend | Fozia Khan. [online] the Guardian.
Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/23/producer-my-week-as-a-muslim-brownface-documentary [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
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