Bradford: City of Dreams and Land of Opportunity!

28 Bradford City of Dreams

Didn’t Bradford look great on TV last night? The Muslims appeared to be a jolly, peace loving bunch. Despite their beards, hijabs and billowing ethnic costumes, they barely spent any time lining up in rows to prostrate towards Mecca. There were no riots, not a single mention of Islamic fundamentalism or EDL marching into town. There wasn’t even an arranged marriage.

Judging by the way my Twitter feed exploded, I’d say the people of my home town were last night breathing a sigh of relief as they watched episode 1 of the BBC2 documentary, Bradford: City of Dreams. This was a programme not built on Bradford bashing. Life is not all doom and gloom in Bradford, it would seem. Despite Bradford’s economic and social problems, it is still a land of opportunity for economic migrants with a willingness to graft. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and multiculturalism appears to be working.

Bradford has been much maligned by the media in recent years. So it was refreshing to see compelling stories and great Bradford characters, peppered with plenty of Yorkshire grit and “ee by gums”. There’s Nav, a second generation British Pakistani, with a workshop full of super-cars waiting to be blinged up. Despite his Lamborghini owning clientele, Nav still lives at home, holds his family and faith dear, and remembers to treat his mum on Mother’s Day. There’s business savvy Rajan, born to an Indian father and English mother, running multiple businesses in Bradford and trying to export fish and chips to India. We meet Graham (pictured), an Englishman and builder of choice for Bradford’s Pakistani community, helping to cost-effectively convert derelict pubs into madrassas for Quranic lessons. His ability to negotiate the price in Urdu endears him all the more to his Muslim clientele. The most touching scenes of the programme showed Graham dropping everything to prepare graves for Muslim burial – his other job of 17 years – since he understands that Muslims must bury their deceased as quickly as possible. As Graham’s story revealed in abundance, sometimes it can take little more than empathy to build connections between communities.

Watch Episode 2 of Bradford: City of Dreams on Thursday May 16, 8-9pm on BBC2

Irna Qureshi is an anthropologist and writer on British Asian culture. She also blogs about being British, Pakistani, Muslim and female in Bradford.


  1. Multiculturalism appears to be working? Only if your behind a camera for the bbc.
    Tell that to the kids white and asian who get racially abused every day at school or the old people who get beaten up walking down the streets that they are now alienated too.

    Yes it was a nice smiley program and it was great saying a positibe side too Bradfors but to anyone who walks around the city at night or the unemployed living in the meanest dirtiest places in this city it was purely propaganda.

    1. Walking the city at night?

      That is the most common BS I hear about this city! What’s the worst that will happen? You get lonely. In my experience If you want to be mugged you need to do it yourself. Bradford’s streets are peaceful.

      Yes I’m sure crime does happen but it’s no worse than anywhere else.

  2. Great film. I enjoyed the positive stories and the great characters, a nice portrait of modern Bradford. Not every report needs to include the negatives. My mothers family came from Bradford and as a child I heard many stories of its prosperous past, it would be nice to also think there were also glimmers of hope for the future. Not sure about the prospects for fish and chips in small town Northern India though……


    Bradford is now officially an Asian city with a few Poles squeezing in the back door? It’s a shame that all of the Bradfordians of Jamaican, African, Sikh, white descent etc, etc…were on holiday when the lazy programme makers came to my City.

    A shame that only the asian community in Bradford have an entrepreneurial spirit – I must remember to tell that to all of the other business folk of Bradford. We obviously are missing that gene!

    A shame that only Asian businesses received free and unadulterated publicity on a national level by the licence fee paid BBC through this programme. Were the programme makers related to the ownres of these businesses by any chance – or perhaps a little racist themselves in not wanting to give any air time to any other nationalities who inhabit this city!

    Ironic and pathetic that some commentators actually believed that this LAZY PROGRAMME put a positive spin on Bradford. I believe that they have inadvertantly delivered a programme that far right groups like the EDL can use with happy abandon to spread their propoganda that Bradford is an asian annex. Shame on your LAZY PROGRAMMING – Next time, if you are going to depict a City, leave it alone unless you can do it justice and represent it accurately. I am a born and bred Bradfordian and I do not recognise the city you portray.

    Do your research on the communities where the lowest educational achievement lies, the highest unemployment, simmering cultural tension, racial tension, hidden domestic violence and increasing incidences of vehicle and drug offences. These are real issues that need to be tackled and where responsible programme makers could do much to represent a balanced way in which these issues can and are being addressed.

    In all of our communities there are problems that are truly being swept under the carpet and trying to candy coat it by depicting a whole community as a storm of entrepeneurs is farcical and irresponsible. The BBC has actually mastered the art of propogating racial stereotypes and, probably inadvertantly (and irresponsibly) whiooed up a whole lot of racial anger with this programme.

    Somebody sensible should now show Bradford as it is really is in a balanced and intelligent manner. There is much that I am proud of as a Bradfordian but also much that I am not proud of in this city. Programme making can be a force for good if it is brave enough to address those issues rather than spewing out stereotyped, lazy, popocorn documentaries like this tripe. Once again, the BBC has shown itself to be utterly lazy and out of touch. Worse still it has the audacity to offend even further by wasting licence fee payers money on such tripe. Seriously – this programmes producers need urgent re-training!

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