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Once again, another programme is aired that seeks to question what ‘Britishness’ means and – surprise, surprise – tonight’s Panorama (click here to visit the BBC website) tells us that we do not know what it is !!! Groundbreaking: not.

As readers here will know, I write regularly on the topic of being ‘British’ and ‘Britishness’. And one thing that is clear is that if we persist in looking for Britishness with one eye firmly rooted in the past, we’re never ever going to find it. Britishness as we knew it, I am convinced, is dead.

However, I am as equally convinced that a ‘new Britishness’ (nothing, I hasten to add, to do with new Labour) is indeed alive and well. It’s just that to recognise, understand and embrace this ‘new Britishness’, we need to be prepared to venture out from under the security blanket of history and nostalgia, and move forward – finally – into the 21st century.

Britain is not the same as it was immediately after the war. It is not the same country that ruled the world at the height of its Empire. It is not the world of roast beef on Sundays, smiling ‘Bobbys’ clipping kids round the ear, cricket on the village green, or any other hideous stereotype that you can imagine. Yes, these may all be good things, but as we have moved on with our diets, jobs, shopping hours even, so we have to begin to move forward with our understanding of Britishness too.

I am hoping to begin a project soon that looks at what it is to be British, so if you have any opinions I want to hear from you. Either leave a comment or contact me from the ‘get in touch‘ link at the top of this page.

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One thought on “‘In Pursuit of Britishness’ – BBC Panorama (25th August 2008)

  1. Hello WCTD

    Spot on -I actually thought the programme was lazy and flawed in its aim… and you’re spot on – an eye on the past just won’t cut any redefining of Britishness. Also seems the big fear is exploring and embracing new notions of Englishness that aren’t just coda for whiteness. I just did the Govt Citizenship test. Risible! In fact given you’re interest in all thing Brit I’d urge you to check a new book coming out next week – We’re British, Innit by Iain Aitch. Now that is a citizenship test with some acute observations. http://britishinnit.com/wordpress/

    All the best

    Gita

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