New Big Fat Gypsy Weddings Review: Have Love Will Travel

BIG FAT GYPSY WEDDINGS – SERIES 2, EPISODE 1: Tuesday 14th February, C4, 9pm

“Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier.â€? is Channel 4’s morally dubious tagline for its second instalment of its diamante-dazzlingly popular series purporting to investigate the lives of British and Irish travelling communities, but in reality irreverently gawping at preparations and traditions surrounding their oncoming nuptials.

This documentary has been somewhat of a coup for Channel 4’s Cutting Edge team, who suggest that travellers (incidentally, a label they use synonymously with ‘gypsies’ throughout – another example of political correctness jubilantly cast aside for voyeurism’s sake), are a very “secretive communityâ€?. A description that rather jars with the accompanying image of vast planets of tulle, taffeta and Tango, orbiting the gypsy universe of Rathkeale in County Limerick.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the first episode reveals the pomp and unceremonious ceremony surrounding 21-year-old Delores’ wedding in all its unfathomable vibrancy. For Delores is a dreamer. Inspired by a trip around the Spanish coast, she would like her pre-wedding day dress (yes, that’s a thing) to be of a palm tree theme, and her sister’s to resemble a pineapple – “like a señoritaâ€?, apparently.

So the more brazen than blushing bride-to-be and her long-suffering sister arrive at the hen night encumbered by enormous, sequin Caribbean motifs stuck awkwardly to their bodies. But the burden is worth it, as they assert with formidable conviction: “we’re the first to dress as a pineapple and a palm tree.â€?

The homely dress-maker’s reaction to the pineapple entreaty is “are you going too far?â€? – a desperate look in her eyes revealing that she has created a monster, as she slavishly glues more and more diamantes onto an outsized tropical fruit.

As if we had any more energy left to squirm, we are also treated to a Big Fat Gypsy Communion, which is markedly more disturbing. Nangirl, not yet a teenager, and her three cousins sashay around the town’s most popular and ominous dolling-up institutions – Sin City salon and the fake tan parlour Solarium – in order to “look good for Godâ€?.

There is a harrowing moment when only half an hour is left until the service begins and none of the girls have completed their ghoulish transformations; blood-curdling cries of “no, I can’t do itâ€?, “I’m begging of youâ€? and “beauty is painâ€? resound to the traumatic vision of mascara snaking down moist orange cheeks.

Once Communion is finally taken, one of the little bride clones concludes, “I’ve got Jesus in my mouthâ€?. Viewers will be praying for deliverance.

Although it is far from a sophisticated social commentary, and based entirely on morbid fascination, there is something remarkably compelling about this programme. Particularly because we guiltily feel comforted by the snarky middle class voice-over’s observations – fake tan is a “subtle shade of brownâ€?; Dolores’ “father’s business dealingsâ€? are mentioned with an all-too-audible sneer, and the bridesmaids’ dresses “are not conducive to free movementâ€?, as they stagger into a horse-drawn carriage that escorts them majestically past a Spar. Who says romance is dead?

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