Saturday 8 September 2018

Nadiya is grounded

SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: BBC humiliates former Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain by axing her Mecca pilgrimage series 
When Channel 4 poached The Great British Bake Off from the BBC, there was speculation that it might hire the hit show’s popular former winner, Nadiya Hussain, as a judge. 
Nadiya remained loyal, though, and was rewarded with a deal to make the BBC her ‘home’. Yet now Corporation chiefs have publicly humiliated Nadiya, 33, by axing a two-part BBC1 series very close to her heart — even though it had already been announced publicly with great fanfare. 
Called The Hajj, it was due to follow Nadiya from her Buckinghamshire home to Mecca as she joined three million fellow Muslims on the annual pilgrimage to the holy city. 
The cancellation comes amid claims that the BBC became nervous. ‘The word here is that senior executives got cold feet about promoting Islam,’ an insider tells me.  
‘They felt that if we were going to broadcast a programme about a Muslim pilgrimage, we would have to make one about other religious pilgrimages as well.’

The idea that the BBC "got cold feet about promoting Islam" is quite something.


  1. What else were they doing by seizing on the same lady because she was a Muslim wearing the headgear and promoting her on several special programme series ever since?

    Didn't stop them putting a Muslim in charge of religious programming either and then when he left, finding another one. And there's been a whole raft of other programmes about art and science and whatnot, promoting Islam. They even had a programme once, in a series about making wills, which featured an Islamic one which was blatantly discriminatory. And other's endless.

  2. "The word here is that senior executives got cold feet about promoting Islam"...

    I'm calling BS on that.

    Since when has the BBC been shy of promoting Islam to the virtual exclusion of all other religions?

    I think this is about protecting the Sharia religion. They wouldn't want to harm it in any way.

    They probably know something we don't...what that might be is pointless to speculate upon. I dont mean the something is something about her personally. But they have found that for instance that men in her community were trying to control the programme content.

    1. "they have found" = "they might have found"

    2. It doesn't make sense anyway. It is not as if they couldn't they make programmes about other pilgrimages. Who could object to that?

      It's weird though. They've cancelled something it says had already been announced with great fanfare. How would that happen without the prior knowledge of the suits? Who would authorise the public announcement? Has Mr Clementi unexpectedly awakened from his long slumber and stamped his foot?

    3. You're right - it makes no sense. As we know from detective series, when the alibi makes no sense, then you know they're on to a wrong un'. Something very fishy here.

      Out of interest I googled on BBC + Islam and got 34.5 million results, while BBC + Christianity brings up 13.7 million. BBC + Buddhism gets 4.8 million. Not promoting Islam? Come off it. (And remember the BBC normally studiously avoids mention of Islam in relation to terrorist incidents.)

  3. Maybe the BBC were even more worried about the image of Islam.
    In this NYT piece even the Muslim woman reporter can't fully whitewash the experience:

    "She had longed to make the hajj for years but was unable because she lacked a mahram, or male guardian — usually a husband, brother or father — to accompany her; male pilgrims can come alone.

    “I never thought I’d get here,” said Saraya, beaming.

    She got here only because the Saudi government allows some women over 45 to come with an older female companion. (I got around the mahram requirement because I came on a journalist visa, which included a different kind of guardian, a Saudi minder named Abdul-Rahman who accompanied me during all my reporting.)"
    "Despite dire warnings from my mother and sister, who had done the hajj before me, I did not experience sexual harassment in any form — no groping, no gestures, no untoward or unwelcome comments. I felt safe. But also, too often, second-class."

    Being a NYT reporter, having a male Saudi official guardian and living, as she admits, in relatively VIP conditions probably helps on the avoiding sexual assault front.

    1. The sexual assaults are well documented as are the 1000s of people killed in stampedes, 4173 were killed in 2015 alone.
      I suspect that obtaining insurance for those involved and ensuring their safety may have been the issue.

    2. Yes, I hate that fake news thing where they show for instance a blonde female reporter in minimal clothing going through some medina in the Middle East at ease, untroubled by male attention whittering on about the wonderful aromas know there are big minders out of shot, possibly the local police with sub machine guns. It's so dishonest.

    3. Bias by pics editing. Clips are no different to stills.

  4. I’m sure JS is on the right track. I think the BBC realised it would be very difficult to promote Islam through this idea. In fact by getting close to Islam it could only show it up as backward and repressive. Think of some issues . It would have to be all Muslim crew. But who would be Nadia’s male chaperone? Perhaps her husband would have to go too. And then the kids too. All at license fee payer expense. Would the BBC show the segregation of men and women , of rich and poor, the tackiness of Mecca? The overcrowding, the sex assaults and frictions between sects? Would Nadia be able to wear her recent rather fetching coloured and minimal hijab or need to go back to something more “modest” and bad for her BBC multi cult image?

    Then there’s Saudi itself. Could the BBC justify ignoring the repression and state executions while they visited? Would Saudi let them film , perhaps only with a police surveillance team alongside? Perhaps the FO has had a word. We really can’t afford to upset the Saudis you know.

    1. All good points...but the BBC has covered the Haaj before now in a very positive could distance this "holy pilgrimage" from the current Saudi regime, pointing out that it has been carried out for over 1400 years...the local regime controlling the holy sites is fundamentally unimportant, they would argue as the pilgrims are motivated by pure faith.

      The segregration of men and women could be diminished with a few clips thrown in of Catholic and Greek Orthodox events where men and women have been separated. Some soothing voice-over from Nadiya would reassure everyone there was nothing unusual about such segregation in the context of very holy events.

      The overcrowding and mass deaths from stampedes would be contextualised and much would be made of new safety measures.

      The Nadiya "Eartha Kitt" kit could still be worn in hotel rooms and hotel lobbies I expect. Donning the pilgrimage garb would just emphasise how holy it all was.

      A male chaperone could have been "disappeared" by the magic of TV or referred to tangentially in regretful tones, suggesting this is something that will pass naturally as Islam enters more on the modern world...

      Nope, I think this is something to do with the production...probably early contact with Nadiya's extended family/religious advisors.

      The BBC came up against something...probably to do with editorial control.

    2. MB , are you "pitching" to the BBC to resurrect (sic) the idea? Clearly you'd be a great BBC editor!

      Yes, you may also be correct about it being something to do with editorial control. I can imagine Tony Hall pushing the series as her personal journey, but found that her community has no interest in a cult of Nadia.

  5. I'd like to speak with someone who works at that reference point of propaganda to ask what process they go through to commission programmes like this. I can guess obviously but be good to have my suspicious confirmed.


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