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KS4 Citizenship: Goodness Gracious Me (1998-2000)

Explore the use of stereotypes in television comedy.

Main image of KS4 Citizenship: Goodness Gracious Me (1998-2000)
Author Poppy Simpson, BFI
Topic Challenging Stereotypes
Curriculum linksNC KS4 Citizenship

'John Brit' , a white British man, is appointed the new controller of ethnic programming at the Indian Broadcasting corporation.

Goodness Gracious Me (1998-2000), the first British sketch show to feature an all-Asian cast, was very well received and focused mainly on Anglo-Asian issues. But while the comedy sought to explode Asian stereotypes, the material also relied on Asians debunking their own customs and double standards. As a result, the series was not without its critics.

In this short activity (suitable as a starter or plenary) students are encouraged to explore some of the issues surrounding stereotypes and think about the power of comedy to challenge (or reinforce) prejudice.



Play the clip to the pupils without any introduction, before leading a class discussion around the following questions:

  • Why did the comedians choose this topic?
  • What British stereotypes can students identify?
  • Does the sketch employ any Asian stereotypes?
  • Why do they think the BBC was content for the sketch to mock broadcasters' approach to ethnic programming?

After discussing some of these issues, ask students to write a short sentence explaining the underlying message of the sketch. Hear a selection of the class's ideas and encourage students to think about the ways in which their interpretations differ.

Finally, ask students to consider the power of television, in particular comedy, to challenge prejudice in society. How important are shows like Goodness Gracious Me? What potential impact can these shows have? Ask students to rate comedy shows on a scale of one to 10 (where one = no impact). To help them think a little more about this topic, perhaps play a short extract from Curry and Chips (1969) as an example of how ethnic stereotypes have been used in TV in the past.


Some more ideas

  • This extract deals with ethnic programming. Do students agree with the creation of distinct ethnic programming broadcasting units (for TV and Radio)? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this development?
Video Clips
1. Indian Broadcasting Corporation (3:24)

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Curry and Chips (1969)Curry and Chips (1969)

Read more about this programme

Thumbnail image of Goodness Gracious Me (1998-2000)Goodness Gracious Me (1998-2000)

Read more about this programme

See also

Thumbnail image of KS4 Citizenship: 100% White (2000)KS4 Citizenship: 100% White (2000)

Explore racism and prejudice with semi-reformed neo-Nazis.