Maureen Lipman calls Jewish Mum of the Year “disgusting”

Jewish actress complains that Channel 4's reality series is "the next stage in this culture of humiliation on television"

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Actress Maureen Lipman has hit out at Channel 4’s reality series Jewish Mum of the Year, calling the show “disgusting.”

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Jewish Mum of the Year, which is broadcast on C4 on Tuesday evenings, sees seven Jewish mothers set different Apprentice-style tasks each week, such as match-making, going on coach trips and organising bar mitzvahs.

The women are then judged on their performance in each task by “actor, playwright and multitasking Jewish mum” Tracy-Ann Oberman and Yiddish scholar Dovid Katz, with the winning mum at the end of the series being rewarded with her own agony aunt column in The Jewish News.

But the programme, which has met with a mixed critical reaction, rankled with Lipman, who said: “It’s disgusting. It is very damaging, with anti-Semitism being what it is. Not to mention that being a Jewish mother is nothing like the way they portray it.

“It is just the next stage in this culture of humiliation on television, and I think it is appalling. A programme like that would never have been made when Jeremy Isaacs was in charge of Channel 4. I haven’t spoken to him about it, but I suspect he would be appalled, too.”

Lipman, who famously portrayed an archetypal Jewish mother in a series of BT adverts in the late 1980s, also complained about the tone of Jewish Mum of the Year.

She told the Daily Telegraph:  “People will say, ‘Oh, well you did Beattie’ in the BT adverts, but that was affectionate. This isn’t. I mean, we have had My Big Fat Greek Wedding, we’ve had My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and now this.

“How about ‘My Big Fat Stupid Television Producer Who Doesn’t Have a Single Unique Thought in His Head’?”

Her comments come a week after former BBC chairman Michael Grade criticised Jewish Mum of the Year, saying: “I don’t know what it was supposed to be. They seemed to cram in every cliché in the book.”

However, a Channel 4 spokesperson said of Jewish Mum of the Year: “The series is entertaining and warm-hearted, and provides insights into one of the most successful and engaging communities in Britain.  

“We worked closely with the Jewish News to find women interested in taking part and the broad range of mums who feature –  from traditional to modern, from orthodox to reformed –  each offer insight into the diversity within the community.

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“The show also features notable figures from within the community such as Tracy Ann Oberman and scholar Dovid Katz and the programme above all celebrates great Jewish mothers and all they stand for.”