Thelma’s Gypsy Girls Review: Caravan Chic
If you were one of the millions of people who found My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding essential car-crash viewing, you’ll love its shamelessly fun spin-off Thelma’s Gypsy Girls — a documentary that’s filled with the same unapologetic, cringe-worthy outrageousness that made its predecessor so famous. What is different, however, is the programme’s misguided hero. This time Channel 4 has swapped bare-knuckle fighter, celebrity big brother winner and godfather of travellers Paddy Doherty for Thelma Madine; ‘the fairy godmother of Gypsy and traveller dresses’.
This isn’t usually my cup of tea but I have to admit that like so many other cynics before me… I really enjoyed this programme. It’s certainly not one that’s going to win any awards, but seeing how much Britain loved ..Gypsy Wedding, there’s clearly teh demand for this doc and they’ll all enjoy watching Thelma attempt to give back to the community that made her, by offering 10 traveller girls the chance to make their own dresses and hopefully learn skills that will find them a job.
And if not, there’s always a small amount of schadenfreude to be had in watching her strive to not lose every penny she’s made from her outlandish dresses, as well as her her livelihood and well, her sanity.
Don’t get me wrong, the prospect of a person’s life being set in stone for them since the ultrasound revealed they were a girl is not something to laugh at. Neither is leaving school at 11. However the way in which the girls presented themselves kind of made me feel okay about deriving a certain amount of humour from it. For example, no-one forced Roseanne to say that Lady Gaga was “a devil worshipper” and she was more than willing to share her theory of ‘Umbrella’ wound backwards being Rihanna’s way of “talking tongues to the devil”. Meanwhile, Shannon cemented herself as the joker of the show; casually stating she’ll need a day off for parole service whilst simultaneously branding her little sister an “ugly bastard” and slamming the door in her face, before apologising to the camera man. Manners cost nothing, after all.
Yet I suspect that most people will be tuning in again (even if it’s only to see whether the girls have learnt what a capital letter is, or that W doesn’t come after Q). And who knows? Should everything go to plan, in a few months you could be on Thelma’s Wikipedia page (after all, that’s when you know you’ve made it).