Goodness Gracious Me is a British comedy sketch show consisting of four comedians, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, Kulvinder Ghir and Nina Wadia. It first aired on BBC Radio 4 and later moved to television, gaining popularity in the late 1990s until its end in 2001.
The sketches created by Goodness Gracious Me often provided humorous commentary on the experiences of the British South Asian community, playing with stereotypes and cultural expectations. They tackled issues such as generational conflict, identity struggles, cultural assimilation, culture clashes and the challenges of living in a multicultural society from the perspective of the South Asian diaspora in Britain.
The sketch Going for an English is a comic reversal of situations, based on the behaviour of some people in Britain when they “go for an Indian” on a Friday night. Set in India with Indian customers visiting an English restaurant, the sketch is about "yobs" behaving rudely when faced with a foreign culture and demonstrating their lack of familiarity with and respect for it. Furthermore, the clients' sexual innuendo and general disrespectful behaviour towards the waiter, whose name they struggle to pronounce, reinforces the sketch's commentary on their cultural insensibility.
By reversing the roles of local and foreigner, the sketch not only provides comic entertainment, but also shows how cultural insensitivity and ignorance can manifest themselves. It encourages reflection and challenges viewers to consider their own behaviour and attitudes when encountering other cultures.
The benefits of a reversal of cultures situation for intercultural learning
A reversal of cultures can be valuable for intercultural learning in several ways:
A situation based on a reversal of cultures allows learners to gain a new perspective by experiencing situations and interactions from a different cultural point of view. This can help to challenge preconceptions, prejudices and stereotypes.
It can also help learners to recognise the limitations and dangers of assumptions and generalisations, thus encouraging more open-minded attitudes. By putting themselves in someone else's shoes, learners can also develop a greater sense of empathy and understanding for different cultural perspectives, lifestyles and behaviours.
Finally, a reversal of cultures situation can increase learners’ awareness of their own communication style and behaviour, which can be crucial to communicating and working more effectively across cultures.
The sketch Going for an English is suitable for learners from a B2 level of English. The following questions can be asked after watching the sketch:
- What cultural aspects does the sketch Going for an English address?
What are some moments in the sketch where miscommunication or misunderstanding occurs?
- Are there any instances in the sketch that you find particularly relatable or that you have experienced in your own intercultural encounters?
- Were there any aspects of the sketch that you found offensive or inappropriate? If so, why?
- How does the sketch use humour to address serious issues related to intercultural communication?
- What lessons or insights can we draw from the sketch about dealing with cultural differences and promoting effective intercultural communication?
Further sketches by Goodness Gracious Me featuring a reversal of cultures situation are:
The Delhi Students - Backpacks: Rough Guide To The United Kingdom, Jonathon, and
Meeting of the Indian Broadcasting Corporation.