On the 10 October 1965, the TV programme ‘Make Yourself at Home’ aired on BBC One. A companion radio programme also appeared on BBC radio. The programme was aimed at recent immigrants from India and Pakistan. Contributors spoke a combination of Hindi, Urdu and English, providing informal language lessons based around everyday situations encountered in the UK.
The broadcast marked a pivotal move in the BBC’s approach to immigration and had a lasting impact on its ethnic minority programming. While the show demonstrated an important shift in how the BBC saw its role in the public life of an increasingly multi-cultural UK, the programme also marked a crucial moment in the lives of South Asian migrants. This exhibition explores how such programmes produced a specifically British Asian culture in the UK, and what it can tell us about the nation and the migrant.
Make yourself at home is the result of an AHRC funded intergenerational project co-led by Dr Pritipuspa Mishra, Dr Bindi Shah and Dr Ajit Nayak from the University of Southampton. This included oral histories and facilitated workshops led by writer Dr Nazneen Ahmed Pathak involving first and second generation of South Asians in Southampton. The goal was to understand their engagement with and perceptions of BBC programming from the 1960s onwards, and how such programming may have shaped their identities and sense of belonging to the British nation.
Also featured is new work by artist Abeer Kayani who studied historic BBC archives, analysing the language and lifestyle barriers faced by the South Asian immigrant community of Southampton. These barriers are represented through a series of experimental, hand illustrated, screen-printed textile artworks.
Make yourself at home is presented in partnership with the BBC to mark the centenary anniversary of the corporation.
With special thanks to Mrs Manju Chopra for community outreach and Unity 101 Community Radio.