Make Me a German

Tue Aug 6, 9-10pm, BBC2

The German for ‘debt’ is ‘guilt’, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Germany’s position as Europe’s financial and industrial powerhouse is all but unassailable. But does this success come at a price for its citizens? Well, yes and no is the inevitable conclusion of Justin and Bee Rowlatt, who decamp to Nuremberg to live like average Germans.

This means early starts and finishes, plenty of pork and potatoes (over a kilo of each every week!) and structured socialising through clubs and societies. So, order, discipline and communal purpose? It’s all a bit generalised and stereotypical. But this financial stability comes at a social and cultural cost, with the significant immigrant population (over 9 percent) underrepresented and marginalised, and a system tilted to make it far harder for women to go out and work than stay at home and have children.

Such issues are only touched upon in this good-natured and entertaining documentary, which nevertheless offers some telling insights into a nation which remains almost wilfully misunderstood.



I'm from Eastern Europe. I lived in Germany for short periods of time and I don't pretend having a board knowledge about their culture and habits. They are pleasant people, very well educated and polite. I respect them and their efficiency at work. I don't think the Germans are pedantic and inflexible people as often said, maybe they were once, but and I found most of them pleasant to work with. Despite of good impression left by the individuals, I don't have the same good opinion about their system. For example, every store closes at 8 PM and Sundays in Bavaria. Is hard for me to call this "freedom" as for sure this is not a market choice. Maybe this is their "dirty" secret, a lack of individual freedom. A little bit of Nazi heritage.


so what did this teach us about the germans? that they're a pretty dull and unpleasant lot. they love rules but hate kids. they work hard but have no ambition. they scrimp and save but have no wealth. there was a wonderful moment half way through, after all the initial euphoria when she suddenly realised this setup wasn't going to work. yet more proof if it were needed that the brits have nothing in common with our continental neighbours

Karen Johnston

Having lived in Germany for 6 years in the 1980s, and loved it, I was curious to see this documentary. What an irritating couple this pair turned out to be! Okay, they were taking part in an experiment but you don't go to a country and take your prejudices/habits with you - e.g. assuming that using a mobile phone at work is okay and making fun of a regional costume. The husband made a really stupid comment about Germans driving German cars - duh?? Of course they would, they are extremely well made AND Germans like to promote their own products!! I found the programme pretty awful and felt the couple should have had a longer stay to try to make an effort to integrate better.