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BBC backlash: Rick Stein blasted for ‘inane colonial clichés’ on India cookery show

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In the BBC2 series Rick Stein’s India, the 74-year-old chef travels explores “the regions that began Britain’s love affair with curry”. But during last night’s episode, Mr Stein was criticised for commenting how people in India are “so poor and yet so happy”.

British Indian writer Sathnam Sanghera tweeted his disgust at the chef’s comments, condemning the fact they were still “the stuff of mainstream broadcasting in 2021”.

He fumed: “Rick Stein on BBC 2 wanging on about how the people in India are ‘so poor and yet so happy’ and I honestly cannot believe these inane colonial clichés are still the stuff of mainstream broadcasting in 2021.

“At same time, so many people failing to get good programmes on India made.”

The programme’s synopsis said the chef visited the country to discover how the British influence “remains strong to this day”.

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Presenter Dr Anjana Khatwa wrote: “I am so fed up of this narrative.

“Also white presenters going to overseas landscapes/Black & Brown communities evoking exoticism & wonder at how they must live. No lived experience.”

She added: “I had a series pitched travelling across Kenya with my nine-year-old daughter to explain landscapes, mother & daughter relationships, East African Asian heritage.

“Guess what, never commissioned. But sure, give the white guy a cooking /railway show in India again.”

A social media user wrote: “He’s one of the most horribly patronising and inexpert commentators I’ve seen.

“I want to see properly informed perspectives on places and their cuisines, like (2015 Bake Off winner) Nadiya Jamir Hussain.

“It’s the 21st century! Less of the ‘westerners gawking at the natives’ vibes!”

The row threatens to spiral and engulf the BBC in another row relating to programmes filmed abroad.

In 2019, BBC darling Stacey Dooley sparked outrage after she posted images on Instagram of her holding a young Ugandan child for Comic Relief.

The charity later said it will stop sending celebrities to Africa after criticism that stars were going as “white saviours”.

The charity will also stop using images of starving people or critically ill children to portray the continent, it has announced.

Instead, its fundraising appeals will be made by local film-makers with a “more authentic perspective”.



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