A Very British Ramadan kicks off Channel 4's 'provocative' season on Islamic festival


Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Channel 4’s “provocative” series of programmes about Ramadan will begin tonight with A Very British Ramadan.

The documentary will follow Rashid Khan, a former professional rugby league player and star of Channel 4’s Make Bradford British, as he travels across Britain to explore the logistical preparations for the holy month of Ramadan.

The programme will hear from a range of British Muslims throughout Ramadan on how they cope with daily life, and the physical and spiritual effects of fasting.

Rashid meets a local Bradford cash and carry firm who are stocking up ahead of Ramadan, as well as a group of youngsters determined to carry on weight training despite the fast.

He also meets members of a mosque in the unlikely setting of a former church as it throws its doors open to offer food to the hungry as they break the fast with the community.

A Very British Ramadan is the first programme in 4Ramadan, a season of programmes on Channel 4 reflecting what life is like for Britain’s Muslim population who observe the religious festival.

The broadcaster, which was launched with a mission to appeal to minority audiences, will return to its controversial roots by airing the Muslim call to prayer live every morning during Ramadan in a deliberate act of “provocation” aimed at viewers who associate Islam with terrorism and extremism.

Ralph Lee, head of factual programming, said that Channel 4 would become the first mainstream British television channel to broadcast the call to prayer (adhan) on a daily basis.

Lee believes the Ramadan season, which includes video diaries of British Muslims going about their lives during the 30-day period, will be a hit with younger viewers.

“No doubt Channel 4 will be criticised for focusing attention on a ‘minority’ religion but that’s what we’re here to do – provide space for the alternative and a voice to the under-represented.

“And let’s not forget that Islam is one of the few religions that’s flourishing, actually increasing in the UK. Like Channel 4’s target audience, its followers are young. It’s recently been reported that half of British Muslims are under 25,” he said.