Big Fat Gypsy Weddings

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings is a documentary series that has recently been aired on Channel 4. It gives to viewers an insight into the extravagent, secretive, and somewhat controversial life of Gypsies in Britain today, specifically focusing on their excessive weddings.

Despite being a huge hit with about 8 million viewers per week, the documentary has offended Gypsies across the nation who label the programme as a ‘mockumentary’.

According to an Irish Traveller Movement spokesman, since the documentary has been aired many of their wedding venues have cancelled on them, while they also claim that they have been unable to get work. The community is said to be seeking £10million compensation for their suffering.

Character Profiles

Josie;

Every girl wants their dress to be the best because you’re only going to wear it that one day… You want to say my dress is like this and my dress is like that, because you wait since you were a baby just to wear it, to feel like a princess.”

Josie, 17, London

Josie is 17 years old and from a large Irish family living in west London. We meet her in the first episode.

Up until three years ago they all lived in a trailer, but now live in a house. Josie says she misses living in a trailer. Although she speaks with a heavy Irish accent, she has only been to Ireland once and even then, just for a week.

Josie dropped out of school aged 11, because, as she puts it, high school is ‘not the place for a gypsy girl’.

She describes herself as a babysitter for her eight younger brothers and sisters, and spends most of the time with her mum. They have never been apart for longer than a day.

Sam

I’ll be a part of a travelling community, but I’ll never be a traveller because I’ll always be myself… Just because you move into a trailer doesn’t mean you’re a traveller.”

Sam, 17, St Helens

Sam is a 17-year-old girl who grew up in St Helens with her mum. She has four brothers and a younger sister. Sam’s parents separated when she was young and although she still sees her dad they have lived apart for most of her life.

Unlike most of the other brides in the series, Sam isn’t a traveller. She’s a ‘gorger girl’ (term used by travellers to describe girls from the settled community) who is marrying into the traveller community. This is a very unusual thing to happen; the two communities rarely even socialise together, let alone get married.

Although she has always lived in a house, she’s looking forward to moving into a trailer and becoming part of the travelling community. But she isn’t trying to become something she’s not.

Sam has known her husband Patrick, who is three years older than her, for most of her life. They first met on Patrick’s site – Sam was the only girl brave enough to enter it as a child, and the pair have been friends ever since.

Lizzie

‘Every travelling girl knows when they grow up there’s no careers or school – it’s just marriage! And children and that’s it … I suppose school’s good for the boys to go ‘cos they need to write and read and whatever, but for girls it’s not a big thing.’

Lizzie, 18, West London

Lizzie is 18 and grew up in west London with her mum, dad, three younger sisters and little brother.

She’s a very confident and fiery redhead whose family is everything to her. After leaving school at 11 she was home tutored for just a year before her life as a home keeper began.

From the age of 12 Lizzie had to get her younger brother and sisters up and ready for school: washing and feeding them and getting them on the bus. Then she has a full day of cleaning the trailer, scrubbing the floors and making the bunks (or beds) before going for a relaxing sunbed in the evening.

This is the life of most young traveller girls. Once they’ve left school they stay at home and learn how to how to clean and look after children – how to be a housewife and mother.


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