The Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO) Media Monitoring Group has expressed concern about output on the ‘Adil Ray Show’ on the BBC Asian Network.
In the programme aired on Wednesday this week (15th July), the stand-in presenter, Tommy Sandhu (pictured) shared that he was growing a beard for his wedding.
The verbatim then led him to a ‘Dhari room’ (beard room) in the ‘big baba house’ (Big Brother house) to get advice on his itchy beard from ‘big baba’ (Big Brother). He was exhorted by ‘big baba’ to maintain his traditional Dhari with turban, even though he explained that it was uncomfortable, itchy and that he felt like he was ‘in disguise’ and not like ‘the real me’.
The Secretary of the media monitoring group expressed concern over the content of the broadcast. “It is vital that BBC Asian Network maintain their sense of humour, however not at the expense of indirectly mocking traditions where turbans and beards are sacred, such as Sikhism.”
He added, “We are disappointed with the utter disregard to sensitivities of the community and really hope BBC Asian Network refrain from such toilet humour in the future.”
This affair represents an unfortunate example of media misrepresentation of people that adhere to the obvious symbols of the Sikh faith.
This follows on from recent concerns expressed by the media monitoring group on religious output by the BBC in both television programming and exclusion of Sikhs on the issue of faith leadership on a flagship Radio programme earlier this year. A number of MP’s have also expressed their desire to rectify the imbalance in religious television programming to allow for proportionate coverage on Sikhism.
Update from the BBC: “The Asian Network is fully aware of the sensitivities around different faiths and cultures and we explore them all the time in our content. We would never seek to offend anyone.”
The BBC has corrected the NSO’s claim that the Tommy was referring to ‘The Big Barber Room’ not ‘Big Baba Room’. ‘Big Brother’ has been featured on Adil’s show since the beginning of the latest series, as has Tommy Sandhu’s imminent wedding.