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The Day the Immigrants Left

25 February 2010

Bristol alumnus James Burstall (BA 1987) has set the national agenda on immigration and employment in the UK with his work on a controversial and factual entertainment programme.

Bristol alumnus James Burstall (BA 1987) has set the national agenda on immigration and employment in the UK with his work on a controversial and factual entertainment programme.

The Day the Immigrants Left, produced by James’ company Leopard Films,  aimed to take a fresh and engaging approach to the impact of immigration on the UK economy by sending unemployed British volunteers from the region of Wisbech, near Peterborough, to undertake a variety of jobs typically filled by the town’s immigrant population.  As the British unemployed workers got to grips with their new jobs, the documentary examined the facts and dispelled the myths around the subject of immigration.

The volunteers worked in a number of companies with varying degrees of success, including an Indian restaurant, a building site, and a potato farm. Peaking at 6.2 million viewers, the programme has gained a breadth of media coverage.

Evan Davis, the BBC's former economics editor and presenter on BBC Radio 4's Today, said of the programme:  "Of course immigration is a topic that arouses complex emotions and unwanted tensions, but that is why broadcasters should tackle it and not avoid it. This programme is an attempt to get beyond the abstract arguments one hears for or against immigration, and to illustrate why it occurs and what it means in human terms."

You can watch The Day the Immigrants Left on BBC iPlayer until 3 March 2010.