Broadcasters block Asian health soap opera

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 11 January 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:110
  1. Rebecca Coombes, freelance journalist
  1. London

    £340 000 drama sought to tackle heart disease and diabetes

    Television companies in the United Kingdom are refusing to broadcast a multicultural soap opera that promotes public health issues—even though government funding means it won't cost them a penny.

    The makers of Kismet Road, who admit that the show “isn't exactly ER,” remain convinced that the mix of kitchen-sink drama and health information could win huge audiences among the UK's south Asian population.

    The soap, a 13 part saga in English, Urdu, and Punjabi, whose largely inexperienced cast includes former Big Brother contestant Narinder Kaur, was filmed in Yorkshire and the Midlands on a shoestring budget.

    Storylines tackle health issues such as coronary heart disease and diabetes, found at a higher than average rate in Asian communities, but also traditionally off-limits subjects, such as contraception, impotency, and alcohol misuse.

    The main characters include Raana Haq, a practice nurse, and Dr McWaverley, an amiable but hapless consultant who offends his Asian patients by referring to “you people” and warning them to stay off the “fatty curries.”

    In one plot …

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