Edinburgh sex industry focus of documentary series

Edinburgh's lapdancers are to be the focus of the TV show. Picture: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Edinburgh's lapdancers are to be the focus of the TV show. Picture: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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THE production company behind telly ratings monster My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is making a documentary series about Edinburgh’s sex industry.

Bosses at Channel 4 have confirmed Firecracker – maker of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, which pulled in up to 8.7 million viewers thanks to its upfront portrayal of Britain’s gypsy and travelling families – will film a “character-led observational documentary series” about performers in the city’s best-known lap dancing bars.

They said the series would follow dancers as they go about their day-to-day routines as part of a wider look at Edinburgh’s “diverse urban and business communities”.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: “Firecracker are in the early stages of looking at making a character-led observational documentary series for Channel 4 about the variety of communities and businesses that exist side-by-side in the historic city of Edinburgh.”

While TV bosses are remaining tight-lipped about the full programme details, the Evening News understands venues in the so-called “pubic triangle” next to the Grassmarket, along with Lothian Road’s Club Rouge, have been visited on a number of occasions by Firecracker since mid-July.

Filming could get under way “in the next couple of weeks”, industry insiders said, with the series – which has not yet been named – set for broadcast in February or March next year.

Since it first aired in February 2010, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding has pulled in viewing figures almost as big as the neon-coloured wedding frocks worn by the girls it turned into household names, but has also been accused of misrepresenting Britain’s traveller and gypsy communities, most notably by one of the show’s stars, Paddy Doherty.

Managers said they hoped a series about strip bars would overhaul “outdated” attitudes towards the adult entertainment industry, which is subject to a Scottish Government consultation on how it is regulated.

Alex Smith, manager at Club Rouge on Lothian Road, where around 15 members of staff including DJs and doormen have had talks with Firecracker, said: “We’ve said that we don’t have a problem with them filming and talking to our girls. The series is going to be featuring the girls themselves – they want to follow what happens to them outside of work as well as inside the clubs. It’s going to be them going to college, being single mums, their hobbies.”

He admitted taking part in the series would carry risks for his staff.

“It’s a difficult decision for the girls – they’re going to be on national TV,” he said. “But I hope it will change the way people view businesses such as mine.”

The dresses, the bling and missing ears

BIG Fat Gypsy Weddings – known as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding in America – has made unlikely stars of the families it followed over two series.

At its peak, the show attracted nearly nine million viewers – transfixed by its portrayal of blinging weddings with lavish dresses, first Holy Communion and the prejudice suffered by travellers and gypsies.

Perhaps the best known character is quintessential hard man Paddy Doherty –

famous for biting off a rival’s ear but later cast as the protective dad of a gypsy girl who falls for an Irish-American fighter.

And the tough guy, from North Wales, who once boasted of how he would swallow parts of the ears and noses of other travellers he tussled with, was even given acting lessons to help him turn on the waterworks.