Thought that Channel 4’s ‘Make me a Muslim’ was a bad idea…??? (read my previous entry on the show here)
Thought that Muslim ‘Wife Swap’ was a terrible experiment that was even worse than expected…???
Well now – and I admit, it’s a little late in reaching the blog – but the Islam Channel is launching a new interfaith quiz entitled, “Faith Off” (if the press release is correct, it should be on air now…!!!). Here’s how the Channel describes the show:
A new TV game show seeks to broaden the public’s knowledge of religion, and to foster understanding between different faiths.
Faith Off is to be broadcast weekly on the Islam Channel from mid-June.
It will be hosted by Muslim comedian Jeff Mirza, and will involve contestants from six major faith groups, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism.
Contestants will be divided into two teams of four, and will be tested on both general and religious knowledge.
Specialist rounds, in a nod to popular sports quiz show ‘A Question of Sport’, include ‘home or away’, where contestants can choose to answer questions on their own religion or a different religion, and ‘guess the religious personality’, with contestants having to identify high profile religious figures such as the Pope and the Dalai Lama based on blurred or difficult to see pictures.
The show aims to be great fun with a serious purpose.
On the fun side, it will include all the traditional elements of a TV quiz show – loud push buzzers, flashing lights, contestants from the general public.
On a more serious note, the show aims to educate the general public about different religious traditions, and to promote understanding between diverse groups of people.
Before each programme is filmed, contestants spend two hours together getting to know each other.
So why is it such a bad idea…??? Well it ‘nods’ to A Question of Sport for a start, but even going beyond that, the idea of a ‘guess the religious personality’ round seems desperately flawed from the start. I mean, apart from the Dalai Lama and the Pope (both of whom the press release identifies as examples), who else is there that fits this billing – Cliff Richard, Osama Bin Laden…???
And what about Buddhist and Sikh ‘religious personalities’ – do they even exist ???
Maybe the show will go for A Question of Sport’s picture board round where pictures of different religious figures are shown. Then again, if the show offers a picture of the Prophet Muhammad it could be that angry mobs taking to the street will conjure a whole new Satanic Verses affair/ Danish cartoons furore, something the show obviously doesn’t want to achieve.
What really irritates me about this show however is the fact that it states that the show has a ‘serious side’. Why…? Why does it need to…?? Does A Question of Sport feel the need to do have a ‘serious side’ or is a quiz show just about having ‘fun’…???
The problem with many ‘Muslim’ initiatives is that they limit themselves and their creativity – not wanting to push the ‘norms’ that a few impose on the rest in the communities or not wanting to go against the increasingly farcical Government agenda, namely that ‘interfaith’ is good and that people from different faiths/ backgrounds need to come together (click here to read the Government’s latest interfaith strategy).
Believing that a ‘fun’ quiz show that includes “loud push buzzers, flashing lights, contestants from the general public” (I’m almost wetting myself in anticipation) has a value in being able to do this is as misguided as it was for those individual Muslims that entered either ‘Wife Swap’ or ‘Make me a Muslim’.
Why do I say that this is misguided…am I being a bit harsh?
Well no because what seems to have been overlooked by the organisers of the show is that it is only going to be shown on the Islam channel: a channel that I would suggest has viewers from ONE community, i.e. the MUSLIM community. How then, despite the press release suggesting otherwise, is the show to bring people together…???
Maybe – just maybe – it is about time that Muslims step out from underneath the comfort and relative safety of the ‘interfaith blanket’ and begin to be ‘normal’, ‘fun’ and ‘serious’ with the wider public and not just an isolated few within their own community.
“Faith Off”…? Maybe that’s just mis-spelt…!!!