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TV Review

EDL Girls - Don't Call Me Racist: BBC Three at its best

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A week after the BBC decide to axe BBC Three and cut back further on their youth content, they've decided to air a documentary about the rise of female membership in the English Defence League. You won't find a much better reason to save the channel than this show.

Examining the swelling ranks of the far-right movement following the murder of Lee Rigby, it tackled an uncomfortable subject without flinching. BBC One's usual reaction to the far right is to hop around awkwardly and invite them on talk shows and Question Time to mouth off. BBC Three's EDL Girls was much smarter.

It turns out you don't have to shout down the far right. If you give them enough time on TV, they'll make themselves look silly.

© BBC


Following the stories of the stomach-churningly named EDL Angels, we were introduced to regional leader Gail, fond of bellowing "YORKSHIRE YORKSHIRE" at random intervals, and lonely 18-year-old Amanda, who we watched becoming enamoured with the EDL after a night down a grim pub.

"Literally, that was the best evening I've ever, ever had," she revealed. It would have been a little bit heartbreaking if it wasn't for the casual aside that followed: "Two weeks ago, I didn't know what the EDL was, but I always thought Muslims were wrong. Trying to bomb us."

The final girl was 16-year-old Katie from Reading. Katie comes from a staunch EDL family. Her step-father, a man who seems to find a 'Police Are Criminals' t-shirt highly amusing, appeared to spend the majority of his days pissing around on Reading high street in a balaclava spouting out guff about burkas and coming up with elaborate conspiracy theories.

Apparently we're all funding the Taliban's bullets when we buy halal bread. So think on that when you're eating your Marmite on toast!

Katie turned out to be the surprising hook for the episode. Brought up in a family where the only topic of conversation appeared to be when the next EDL march was going to be, it would have been understandable if she'd fallen into line with her parents and siblings. But she was smarter than that.

While, she didn't go so far as to challenge her family, her refusal to participate spoke volumes. The teenager wasn't prepared to spend her life being called a racist and put her mum's nose out of joint when she said her step-father's antics on Reading's street made him look like "a fool".

EDL Girls - Don't Call Me Racist

© BBC


Watching her family members rowing on the high street, Katie observed: "It's going to be a debate that nobody is going to win." In a documentary that was filled with bloodied and boozed-up flag-waving hooligans, that was a refreshing dose of common sense.

Amanda, who had recently suffered a turbulent relationship ending, was less independent than Katie and more easily swayed by the lure of being invited with open arms into a gang. The EDL girls had added her on Facebook and everything.

Despite the constant hypocrisies of the EDL mob (claiming you're not racist and then chanting "Mohammed is a paedo"... smart), Amanda couldn't resist the feeling of belonging she got from the protests.

Amanda was lost. She got her education from YouTube comments ("That's why I hate trains. You hear about a lot of bombers on trains"), and she had given up on justice, accepting that it would be ok to "get battered" on an EDL march because "everyone gets battered in the street" anyway.

It turns out when you don't give young people a voice and any attention, they can get disenfranchised and they might find comfort in the extreme margins of society.

So, back to the BBC. Do we still think it's a good thing we're ripping apart our national broadcaster's dedicated youth channel?

Did you watch the show? Do you think shows like this warrant BBC Three staying on air?

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