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Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier. Wronger?


This is Channel 4’s latest advertising campaign for series two of their hugely successful show ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’. Channel 4 may argue that their show helps breaks down stereotypes about travelling people, many would argue it simply reinforces them, but for me the use of an image of a child with the tagline ‘Bigger. Fatter. Gyspier’ is a grossly irresponsible.

What will the child’s classmates make of the widespread poster campaign? Is the child featured in the show or is he a model? Does it make a difference?

I’d love to know what people think. I’d love it even more if Channel 4 explained themselves.

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  1. It’s the pits. Whatever credibility they had in claiming that BFGW breaks down stereotypes is now lost.I really hope the wee boy doesn’t get a hard time because of it.

  2. It does seem odd to use a picture of a little boy to advertise a programme about weddings. Most of the episodes I’ve seen have featured the flamboyant outfits the brides have chosen to wear and there hasn’t been much focus on the kids, so it does seem a bit strange to use them as the focal point of their advertising campaign.

  3. I agree this is somewhat irresponsible of Channel 4. I too would love to hear what Channel 4’s reasoning is for using a child to represent a show that’s not really about travelling kids. And even if it was I’d be against the blatant stereotyping.

  4. Is this definitely for BFGW?Channel 4 had another show called "Gypsy Blood" which was a more honest and brutal look at Gypsy culture (focussing primarily on the use of fights to settle disputes).From what I’m aware they were planning a few follow-up shows.Knowing Channel 4 as well I’d be surprised if they’d use this sort of campaign for BFGW.I could be wrong though.Either way – yeah this campaign is disappointing.

  5. Chris, it’s safe to say it is as Big Fat Gypsy Wedding returns on Feb 14th, which is the date advertised on the billboard too.

  6. I found it unsettling and shocking, no matter which stupid tv show they were attempting to advertise for. They got what they wanted though, as people are talking about it. I never felt MBFGW broke down any stereotypes, it merely made people laugh at the silly dresses and the poor girls cleaning caravans instead of going to school. It was uncomfortable viewing as it just invoked the Oh my god look at that response. And using a picture of a pretty aggressive looking kid to advertise a program about gypsies cannot help anyone least of all the child himself.

  7. I’ve tweeted @honda_UK to see how they feel about being associated with this campaign. Also tweeted @C4insider to find out if the wee boy is a model or if he features in the show. It would be helpful if others did the same.

  8. I applaud your efforts but for work-related reasons my involvement ends here.Would be interested to know how you get on though….

  9. Imagine if the poster said "Bigger. Fatter. Blacker." and had a picture of a black child growing up in poverty.Or "Bigger. Fatter. Chavvier." and had a picture of a white child growing up in poverty.National outrage, politicians fighting for their piece of the pie, Down With This Sort Of Thing, etc.But institutional racism towards gypsies is seen as not counting so much.No child chooses to be born gypsy, white, black, rich, or poor. This poster assigns that child horrible qualities despite that.

  10. I don’t like this advert at all. Are there not regulations on the use of children in television/ advertising? Particularly relating to non-fiction? I’m sure there are, though I’m afraid no time to look them up at the moment. I’ve never watched MBFGW but this certianly doesn’t make me want to.

  11. Hi just done a search about this very advert …seen a version with girls in here in Sheffield – you can see the link I’ve put your picture that’s above on there too for me it’s exploitative of the kids, it’s immoral of C4 to see this advertising as ok, It’s racist, it’s manipulative- by us fuming about it we add to the noise about the advertising campaign (which in their books will be seen as a plus point)It’s a very very vclever and provocative piece of advertising by people that have no moral integrity or sense of right

  12. From a marketing point of view I suppose it’s obvious trolling of the "no such thing as bad publicity" kind. But even if the eventual programme presents a more realistic picture (which would not be difficult) that doesn’t excuse this advert, which has to stand and be judged on its own, as most people seeing the billboard won’t watch the programme.Dismal.

  13. I wonder if C4 would go with "BIGGER FATTER JEWIER" for the Jew season?

  14. @Honda_UK responded:" @thirdsectorlab While Honda sponsors documentaries made by C4 we aren’t associated with the programmes content. This is at C4’s discretion. "Not sure I agree by sponsoring it you’re by definition associated with it. Oh well.Still no response from Channel 4. You can ask them to clarify their decision to use a child for this add campaign by tweeting @c4insider

  15. Thanks for posting this photo – I saw the adverts on the London tube for the first time yesterday and am appalled. I think it is complete breach of human rights, and makes a joke of child poverty and inequality in the UK, all of which are inexcusable. I just sent a complaint to the ASA and the Equality and Human Rights Commission after speaking to someone on their helpline. The EHRC can be contacted here: 0845 604 6610, by email and general info from their website

  16. Gypsier?Sod right off you crass bunch of wallies

  17. remember this is the channel that gave us Big Brother for all those godawful years – they have a mix of enlightened creatives and base tabloid lowest common denominator producers under contract

  18. Response from @C4Press:" @ThirdSectorLab Everyone featured in the posters has seen them and is happy with them. Parental consent was given for the poster campaign. "Does this make it ok?

  19. That just makes me wonder why they chose to use an image that requires parental consent in the first place. An odd decision for a programme about weddings which has such a strong focus on the brides. I really don’t see the connection between the boy and the TV show.

  20. Question: will you watch it?Answer: yesResult: ad campaign workedStop being so bloody PC… It’s what makes this country so boring now and is the stem of the reason why we had the riotsGo back to reading your guardian the lot of you

  21. Do I have to read the Guardian?I find it too big once unfolded and it’s a bit cumbersome.I much prefer the Independent…..

  22. I’m submitting a complaint tot the ASA about this add. I’d suggest anyone else who thinks this add’s awful do the same.

  23. That reminds me, my drive needs tarmacing

  24. If these kids are real gypsies (or models) then C4’s agency would have had to get model sign-off. I suspect they are real kids on a site and that the parents were happy to take a fee for their little ones to be used in the pic. My problem is that the strapline doesn’t fit the pic. They aren’t fat or bigger – just look a little scary and the sorts who would rob your home.

  25. It is racism — against brythonic people – we brythonic people blue eyes and freckles and have been the victim of this type of racismn for over 2000 years. The word CELT for example means barbarian and comes from the greek Keltoi – being FRECKLED and blue eyed, a separate genetic from the scandinavian genetic (they dont have freckles) WE ARE THE ABORIGINEES of these l;ands… it is highly offensive and illegal and channel four should be sued by the parents..!Imagine the outcry if this were an african genetic individual…!

  26. No matter what the outcome gathers, its racism, and worse yet, a child is used to promote personal opinion. My personal faith and heart wont allow to even pass it on even to defend the people becasue it will still gather more grounds for racism.As always prayers are sent for the innocent….

  27. A wee update:- Channel 4’s PR manager emailed me with a more personal response than the bog standard line I got on twitter. I’ve asked them to comment on here so they can be part of the conversation. So far zilch. If they don’t comment today I’ll share their response on here.- The advertising watchdog have had over 100 complaints about the ad.- The London Gypsy and Traveller Unit delivered a formal letter of complaint to Channel 4.- The Drum magazine and various Tumblr blogs picked up the post: Ben Goldacre tweeted about this post twice. His followers were great RTing the link hundreds of times.- The Daily Mail used my photo without asking, crediting or linking: They’re @mailonline if you want to ask them why!

  28. Well Channel 4 have still declined to comment on my post so here’s the email they sent me:"The series uses celebrations as a window into the lives of gypsies and travellers, and covers a wide range of issues – not just weddings. For the poster campaign, a photographer visited some of the communities that were filmed to capture images of people and events as they happened to ensure the photographs used were authentic."No explanation of why the word ‘gypsier’ was used over the image of a child.

  29. I’m sorry, but that is a very lame response. Admittedly, I think they responded to you before the ASA broadcast that they’d had over 100 complaints about the adverts. But even so, they’re not really addressing the point of racism or using the picture of a child in an unacceptable way.

  30. I’ve had a second follow up email from Channel 4:"The advertising campaign builds on the celebratory nature of the first series of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. It is a take on the well-established programme title which in itself is a spoof of the title of a well-known Hollywood film. Everyone featured in the series is from a travelling community and would refer to themselves as gypsies. The word “gypsier” refers to the fact that this series offers even greater access and insight to the communities featured, and the terms “gyspy” or “gypsier” are not being used in a negative context. The advertising features contributors from the series and the images were taken in their own communities. Everyone featured in the campaign has seen the posters and is happy with them. All images were taken with full consent and all aspects of the poster campaign fully comply with advertising guidelines."