Big Fat Gypsy Weddings
|Big Fat Gypsy Weddings|
|Created by||Jenny Popplewell|
|Developed by||Jenny Popplewell|
|Directed by||Morag Tinto|
|Narrated by||Barbara Flynn|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||18|
|Executive producer(s)||Jes Wilkins|
|Running time||49 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Firecracker Films|
|Original channel||Channel 4|
|Original run||18 February 2010– Present|
Big Fat Gypsy Weddings is a British documentary series broadcast on Channel 4, that explores the lives and traditions of several Irish Traveller families as they prepare to unite one of their number in marriage. The series also featured Romanichal (British Gypsies) in several episodes, and has been criticised for not accurately representing England’s Romani and Travelling community. It was first broadcast in February 2010 as a one-off documentary called My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, filmed as part of the Cutting Edge series and voted Most Groundbreaking Show in the Cultural Diversity Awards 2010. A series of 5 episodes were later commissioned, and the series first aired in January 2011. A second series began airing in February 2012. A third series will not be made, rather the show will end with six stand-alone specials.
In North America, the show airs on TLC under the title My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, with the original narration by Barbara Flynn replaced by Ellen K., while the TLC network started airing a spinoff featuring American Roma called My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding.
The show has been criticised mainly by the Irish Traveller & British Gypsy/Traveller communities for misrepresenting them. Jane Jackson, deputy chief executive of the Rural Media Company, a charity which publishes the Travellers' Times said:
|“||It's posing as a documentary, the voiceover is saying we're going to let you into the secrets of the traveller community – and it [sic] just not true. It might be true of the particular families in front of the camera, but it's not generally true. They're made to look totally feckless, not really to be taken seriously as an ethnic group.||”|
Jes Wilkins, the executive producer said that the vast majority of the participants in the show are happy with their on-screen portrayal. Wilkins said:
|“||The problem has been with the media response, particularly from the tabloid press. It's become one of the big cultural phenomena of this part of the year and people are looking for something to write about it, something provocative. Some [sic] these articles have upset our contributors which has been disappointing.||”|
Others from the Traveller and Gypsy communities question the show's title. Billy Welch, a spokesman for Romani Gypsies said:
|“||While Channel 4 should be praised for at least differentiating between Irish Travellers and Romani Gypsies, the first three episodes have in fact focused exclusively on Irish Travellers and their traditions: They called the show Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and you've yet to see a Romani Gypsy in it.||”|
Big Fat Gypsy Weddings opened in 2011. The second episode got 7.4m viewers at its peak, Channel 4's highest ratings since Big Brother in 2008. The consolidated figures for the series' second episode were 8.7 million, making it Channel 4's eighth highest-rating programme ever. The final episode was watched by 6.5 million viewers, easily beating the 2011 BRIT Awards which had an average viewership of 4.8 million.
The episode "No Place Like Home" caused controversy after it showed young girls provocatively dancing and wearing full make-up.
Broadcast readers voted the series' progenitor, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, the ‘Most Groundbreaking Programme’ at the Cultural Diversity Awards 2010. Executive producer Jes Wilkins and the team were in attendance to accept the award.
Big Fat Gypsy Wedding Series 1 was nominated for a BAFTA in the YouTube Audience Vote category .
My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (2010) 
|–||"My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding"||18 February 2010||5,567,000
|Looks at the milestones in a Gypsy girl's life leading to the biggest day of all – her wedding. From first Holy Communion (described as a 'dress rehearsal for her wedding day') to the strict rules of courtship, a hen night and, of course, the spectacular wedding itself, this episode examines the traditions and rules followed by Gypsy and traveller girls in Britain today. Unlike the later series, this stand-alone episode was directed by Osca Humphreys.|
Series 1 
|1.1||"Born to Be Wed"||18 January 2011||7,280,000
|Looks at the milestones in a Gypsy girl's life leading to the biggest day of all – her wedding. From first Holy Communion (described as a 'dress rehearsal for her wedding day') to the strict rules of courtship, a hen night and, of course, the spectacular wedding itself, this episode examines the traditions and rules followed by Gypsy and traveller girls in Britain today.|
|1.2||"No Place Like Home"||25 January 2011||7,467,000
|Romany Gypsy Pat faces criticism for marrying a non-gypsy. But his bride Sam is determined to prove her Gypsy girl credentials with a 14-stone wedding dress that lights up in the dark. With 21 underskirts and moving diamante butterflies, it weighs more than the bride's father.|
|1.3||"Desperate Housewives"||1 February 2011||8,032,000
|A look beyond the enormous wedding dresses, sequins and tiaras to unveil the lot of a Gypsy woman. With literacy and education largely deemed unnecessary and domestic abuse startlingly common, the contrast between the daily life of a gypsy girl and the glitz and glamour of their wedding day is stark.|
|1.4||"Boys Will Be Boys"||8 February 2011||8,804,000
|An insight into the lives of Britain's traveller men, providing a contrast with the experiences of their wives and daughters. The programme introduces the patriarch of a Salford community, who explains the role men play in his culture, and offers views of traditional gypsy christenings and weddings from a male perspective. An independent girl also prepares to reveal her Romany identity to her employer before she leaves work to get married.|
|1.5||"Bride & Prejudice"||15 February 2011||8,048,000
|The final film in the series highlights prejudice against the travelling community in Britain today. But discrimination is nothing new to the travellers and their seclusion from mainstream society seems to be their only defence. Dressmaker Thelma has to make a dress for a bride who won't even tell her when the wedding is for fear the venue finds out she's a traveller and cancels the booking. This is the final episode of Series 1.|
Royal wedding special (2011) 
|–||"Big Fat Royal Gypsy Weddings"||29 April 2011||4,561,000
|Royal wedding special following the wedding of Irish traveller Mary, the first wedding fully planned by dressmaker Thelma Madine. Notably, it first aired the night before the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.|
Christmas special (2011) 
|–||"My Big Fat Gypsy Christmas"||13 December 2011||6,367,000
|Follows the celebrations and traditions of the gypsy community at Christmas, as well as the weddings of Lavinia and Charlene respectively. In addition to this, the program covers a mass first communion.|
Series 2 
|2.1||"Diamantes Are Forever"||14 February 2012||6,027,000
|Follows 16-year-old Sammy Jo as she takes part in a traveller-only beauty pageant. Four cousins compete to have the most memorable outfit at their first Holy Communion.|
|2.2||"I Fought the Law"||21 February 2012||5,034,000
|This episode shows how Romany gypsies and travellers' attempts to live a traditional life can get them in trouble with the law. Covers the hen party of Danielle, whose fiancee happens to be in court on the same day. Also features an illegal horse-and-trap road race, a family faced with eviction from their illegal site and 8-year-old Chloe (preparing for her First Holy Communion) visiting her father in prison.|
|2.3||"School of Hard Knocks"||28 February 2012||5,579,000
|Follows several traveller girls and their differing experiences with education, ranging from those who left school illegally early to those who are "bucking the trend" by completing their secondary education. Alice talks about her encounters with school bullying.|
|2.4||"Love Conquers All"||6 March 2012||6,040,000
|What happens when two different worlds are joined together in marriage? This episode explores the cultural divide between Gypsies and non-Gypsies. Marrying outside of the Gypsy and traveller community can be frowned upon. Romany Gypsy Tony Giles is a red-blooded cage fighter who is expecting a child with a non-traveller (or 'gorja'). But will Tony's family accept his choice? To make matters worse, his fiancee Danielle is a glamour model, a career choice that many in the Gypsy community consider dirty. Romany Gypsy George Webb is separated from his non-traveller wife and worries that his two children will become more like gorjas. Romany Gypsy Tracey and non-traveller Phil have been married for ten years. Their first wedding was a low key affair, but Phil has been saving for years to give Tracey the wedding of her dreams, including 14 bridesmaids, three stretch Hummers, and a four horse-drawn carriage.|
|2.5||"Reputation is Everything"||13 March 2012||5,269,000
|After causing a scandal by spending time alone with her boyfriend, Irish traveller Rosanne is rushed up the aisle to save her reputation.|
|2.6||"Out of Site, Out of Mind"||20 March 2012||5,341,000
|At Dale farm, after 10 years of court battles, eviction approaches for 80 families. Freda grew up with non-travellers. But now that the 17-year-old is to be married, she's keen to return to her traveller roots. Romany gypsy elder Billy Welch is determined to protect his people's right to hold a horse fair each year in Appleby. Billy is given a police-escort to his granddaughter's first Holy Communion. Billy's 17-year-old son Johnson is at the Ebor festival at York races when tension erupts between gypsies and non-travellers, and the night culminates in a bloody fight in a York night club. And at the traveller haven of Rathkeale Irish traveller Chantelle returns from travelling abroad to celebrate her wedding to Jim.|
|2.7||"We Are Family"||27 March 2012||4,546,000|
|Irish traveller family the McFadyens celebrate key life events over a series of months. Recently convicted Josie is planning the christening of her six-month-old daughter, but still finds the time to decorate her electronic tag with bling. The family is also excited about the release of the family patriarch Chris from prison, who they plan to pick up in a stretch limousine. And 16-year-old Cheyenne and cage-fighter John are engaged to be married, with Cheyenne facing the daunting task of organising her wedding as she deals with the recent death of her mother. While the traditional way of life is evolving, the large extended family unit remains at the heart of the Traveller community – celebrations are always a family affair.|
Stand-Alone Specials 
Channel 4 confirmed there will not be a third series of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings but instead will end the show with six stand-alone specials to be aired throughout 2013. 
|–||"My Big Fat Gypsy Valentine"||11 February 2013||-|
This one-off Valentine's special explores love and courtship in the Traveller community, following Ina and Danielle as they prepare to wed their first loves.This episode famously featured Joe 'Valentine' Gaastra the head of the Royal Wootton Bassett Gypsy and Amish community in typical jovial mood on the dance floor.
|–||"My Big Fat Gypsy Fortune"||14 April 2013||-|
|Ever since the first Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, millions of viewers have watched the extravagant weddings and asked the same question: where does the money come from? It has been one of the Travelling community's most closely guarded secrets. Until now... Gypsies and Travellers form some of the richest and the poorest elements of society, from Alfie Best, a Romany Gypsy worth a reported £100 million, to down-on-his-luck Romany Gypsy George. This programme lifts the lid on a community with its own unique customs, traditions and attitudes to money. Meanwhile, Irish Traveller Larry is planning an amazing wedding for his eldest daughter Margaret. Eight bridesmaids, 300 guests and a huge white dress don't come cheap, and Larry has been saving all his life. But as he later reveals, some Travellers have a secret way of financing their breath-taking weddings...|
|–||"Best Dressed Brides"||26 April 2013||-|
|Dressmaker Thelma Madine reveals the secrets behind her most outrageous creations, from design and production through to the unique excitement of a Traveller or Gypsy wedding day. Thelma relives the mayhem and magic that went into creating the most incredible outfits, recalling everything from glow- in-the-dark wedding dresses to her famous pineapple and palm tree costumes.|
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- Orange: MBFGW series report
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- "About My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding", TLC, retrieved April 26, 2012
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- Deans, Jason (16 February 2011). "Big Fat Gypsy Weddings drowns out Brits". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
- "Big Fat Gypsy Wedding sponsors forced to apologise for 'racist' advert". The Mirror. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
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- "Big Fat Gypsy Weddings 'has increased bullying of Gypsies and Travellers'". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- "Big Fat Gypsy Weddings under fire for showing eight-year-olds 'pole dancing'". Metro.co.uk. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
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- Series 1 | My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding at Channel4.com
- Banks-Swift, Nancy (18 February 2010). "EastEnders and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
- Series 2 | Born to Be Wed at Channel4.com
- Series 2 | No Place Like Home at Channel4.com
- Series 2 | Desperate Housewives at Channel4.com
- Series 2 | Boys Will Be Boys at Channel4.com
- Series 2 | Bride & Prejudice at Channel4.com
- My Big Fat Royal Gypsy Wedding at Channel4.com
- Diamantes Are Forever at Channel4.com
- I Fought the Law at Channel4.com
- School of Hard Knocks at Channel4.com
- My Big Fat Gypsy Valentine at Channel4.com