Sep 26, 2023
Sep 26, 2023
As much provocative as reactionary, the trailer for Britain's latest fly-on-the-wall TV documentary begins with a woman ironing and her husband declaring: "Meet my wife. She's the one who's going to cook for me." Then the words, at once serious and gently mocking, '35 years of blissful marriage', flash across the screen.
The couple are British Asians Arvinderjeet Singh Grewal, 54, and Sarbjit Grewal, 55, and together with seven other family members - one of whom is born during the filming - they are the protagonists of 'The Family', a popular show on Channel 4 television. It's the second series of a programme created in 2008 when it featured the Hughes from Kent in southeastern England.
Edited down from footage filmed over eight weeks by 28 cameras that followed the Grewals round the clock, Channel 4 describes 'The Family' as: "A unique eight-part observational series that documents the universal themes of family life."
And fans of the first series certainly tend to approve. "The Hughes were good, but another series of them would just be overkill. I think an insight into an Asian family will make good viewing," wrote one blogger, who signed herself as Sharon.
What the critics took from the first series of show was a sharp and welcome contrast with the most famous reality TV show of them all, 'Big Brother'. Whereas 'Big Brother', to be discontinued next year following a drop in audience ratings, included long tracts of often tedious reality and dysfunctional, occasionally racist clashes - as when the late Jade Goody was accused of making derogatory remarks about Indian actress Shilpa Shetty - the Hughes family was mostly happy and ordinary in a positive sense and the extensive footage was carefully shaped. "It's not a piece of reality TV. It's real TV. It's lovingly crafted," Channel 4's deputy head of documentaries Simon Dickson said at the time of the first series.
More by : Barbara Lewis