Veggie nightmare: When buying chicken in Udaipur upset BBC viewers

The third series of The Real Marigold Hotel features nine British celebrities travelling across north India, mostly amazed and delighted at the many hues of everyday life in India.

world Updated: Aug 02, 2018 19:59 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan times, London
BBC shows Udaipur chicken chopping,chicken chopping in Udaipur upset BBC viewers,The Real Marigold Hotel
The third series of The Real Marigold Hotel features nine British celebrities travelling across north India, mostly amazed and delighted at the many hues of everyday life in India.(BBC Photo)

Did half of the United Kingdom turn vegetarian on Wednesday night after the BBC showed a butcher in Udaipur decapitating a chicken?

As the first episode of the third series of The Real Marigold Hotel was on air during prime time, many took to social media to express horror at seeing the head of a chicken being graphically chopped off, prompting several counter-responses.

The latest series of the show features nine British celebrities – including former MP Stanley Johnson, father of former foreign secretary Boris Johnson – travelling across north India, mostly amazed and delighted at the many hues of everyday life in India.

The series is inspired by the 2011 film ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ starring Dev Patel and Judi Dench, in which a group of cash-strapped British senior citizens travel to Jaipur to spend their last years. Previous two series on BBC won a wide audience.

“There was absolutely no need to show a chicken having it’s (sic) head taken off. Half the UK have just gone vegetarian”, tweeted Jo Gattenberg, while ‘el’ added: “That chicken decapitation scene was horrific I’m definitely being a vegetarian now”.

Anil Mohanlal countered: “Hypocrites showing disgust at the chicken being killed and skinned in The Real marigold Hotel must think their chickens in Waitrose and Tesco are still born with plastic wrapping.”

Besides Johnson, the latest series stars comedian Syd Little; TV presenter and journalist Selina Scott; actress Stephanie Beacham; Grand National winning jockey Bob Champion; actress Susan George; Krankies double act Janette and Ian Tough; and Eastenders actor Peter Dean.

Champion came in for some flak for trying the ‘curry’ for the first time in his life: “Well done Bob for trying Indian food for the first time at 69 – but it does say something about the man. I mean how can you not have had Indian food as a born and bred Englishman”, asked Lady Day.

Revelling in traditional hospitality and settling in a house by the Pichola lake in Udaipur, the nine celebrities – most had never been to India – expressed their surprise, delight and at times dislike using understated British humour. They also travel to the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Of the lot, the most comfortable person in the Indian environs was Johnson, 77, who has visited India several times since 1961; his daughter-in-law, Marina Wheeler (Boris Johnson’s wife) is of Indian origin.

The first episode of series three was received well, with many wishing they could just take a flight to India, but The Daily Telegraph saw a “fundamental flaw”, since “it is quite obvious that not one of those nine aged luminaries has any intention of doing such a thing (retiring in India)”.

Indian-origin viewers too gave the series a thumbs-up, mainly because it had less of the orientalist perspective that has long dominated British films and television shows with Indian themes.

“For once, it showed genuine delight and effort by Britons to appreciate, adjust and enjoy the warmth of our people. There was none of the former colonialist-returning-to-former-colony treatment that is often seen on British television,” said Ravi Singh, a senior IT consultant in Maidenhead.

First Published: Aug 02, 2018 19:54 IST