Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Thursday, 13 May 2010 17:27 UK
Four Lions: Another roaring success for Sheffield films
Kebabish on The Wicker in Sheffield
Kebabish on The Wicker in Sheffield is the location for a key scene in the film

The latest Sheffield film had a fantastic opening weekend at cinemas in May 2010.

Like the Oscar-winning Full Monty, Four Lions is a comedy - but rather than being about unemployed steelworkers-cum-strippers, it's about four incompetent suicide bombers who plan to target the London Marathon in fancy dress.

Four Lions was made by an independent Sheffield film company, Warp Films, based at Electric Works in Sheffield.

It was directed by satirist Chris Morris, the man behind the controversial Chanel 4 comedy series Brass Eye which parodied issues like drugs and paedophilia.

Blake Street in Sheffield
Blake Street in Sheffield is the location of Omar's family house

Four Lions was shot at locations across Sheffield in Summer 2009, including a terrace near the Tinsley viaduct; Meersbrook Park; a house on Sheffield's steepest hill Blake Street; The Moor; Vicar Lane near Sheffield Cathedral; and - crucially - the Kebabish restaurant on the Wicker.

7/7 complaints

The film's controversy spread before it opened to the public; families of those killed in the London bomb attacks in 2005 appealed to cinemas not to show the film.

Graham Foulkes' 22-year-old son David was on the Tube train targeted by a suicide bomber at Edgware Road, on the day that 52 people were killed on July 7th. Graham Foulkes told BBC Radio 5 Live that while parody and satire have a part to play in examining serious issues, Four Lions is too close to the bone:

"Four lads from the north, all with strong Yorkshire accents - and the bombers were from Yorkshire - travelling down to London. It's very specific. It's very aligned to what happened in 2005 and they talk about bombing in London. That's not parodying or being satirical about terrorists. It's making money about a specific attack."

Four Lions follows four men plotting to kill thousands at the London Marathon
Four Lions follows four men plotting to kill thousands at the London Marathon

Warp Films, the independent Sheffield film company which made Four Lions, said that the offence wasn't intentional: "The film does not mock or trivialise the sufferings caused by bombings. We sympathise with those affected by the events of 7 July and did not seek to cause them any offence."

Four Lions was premiered in Bradford in January 2010. Arsher Ali, who plays one of the would-be terrorists, Hassan, told the BBC that the film is first and foremost a comedy:

"A film like this is obviously a very strong counterpoint to the very serious side of [terrorism], which none of us condone, but there are human stories that need to be told, which can be quite touching."

Four Lions director Chris Morris says the film shows the "Dad's Army side to terrorism," while London think tank Demos says that by ridiculing the aims of terrorists, the film is a "critical weapon in the fight against terrorism."

Chris Morris at the Sundance Film Festival premiere of Four Lions
Chris Morris was behind TV shows The Day Today and Brass Eye

You can have your say on the film and its subject matter at the bottom of the page.

The next Full Monty?

Sheffield's low-budget film The Full Monty about an unemployed steelworker who rounds up a group of equally despairing men from the dole queue to form Sheffield's answer to The Chippendales, surprised everyone by winning an Oscar and a BAFTA and becoming an international hit. Perhaps Four Lions will follow in its footsteps.

Mark Herbert of Warp Films for one was surprised by the film's success following its opening on 7th May 2010: "It's gone down so well that they're having to double the amount of screens showing it. It's great - a lot of the crew are from Sheffield, the actors loved it here, I think Chris Morris would move here if he could!"

As the old adage goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity - even when the publicity is a potential terror threat in your restaurant. Since filming last summer, new owners have taken on Kebabish on the Wicker in Sheffield, but current proprietor Wahid Nazir says they are already reaping the benefits of their restaurant's prominence in the film:

Kebabish in Sheffield
Wahid Nazir says that the film has raised the profile of his restaurant

"We're really busy as it is and we're expecting it to get busier. Since the film's been in the cinema, we've had people ringing up and saying 'Is that the Kebabish in the film?!'"

Following Warp Films' success with Four Lions, the company are making a four-part drama for Channel 4. This is England 86 picks up the lives of many characters made famous in This is England, four years on from the original film which was set in 1982.

Have Your Say

Have you seen Four Lions? Were you offended, or did you think it is hilarious and deals with the subject of terrorism in a refreshing way? Are you planning to boycott the film? Have your say on the film via the form below.

Your E-mail address
Town & Country

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

Emily, London

I saw this last night and loved it. It's a very funny film but doesn't detract from the seriousness of terrorism, and certainly doesn't trivialise the deaths on 7th July. At the end, my friends and I stood about outside, a little shell-shocked, discussing the issues the film had brought up - and surely any discussion is a good thing? Watch it before you criticise it - you might just change your mind.

John Gaukroger

One of the funniest films I've seen and I've seen a lot as a friend of film at National Media Museum in Bradford. I was uneasy at the start and am now very curious about the 'take' on it of many young Muslims in Yorkshire. I was very pleased at the accurate and successful way it captured the talk - accents, language, obscenities and so on - of such young men, although a lot of people from more fashionable and prosperous places may be shocked, and at times we needed subtitles. WELL done!

I can sympathise with the father of the victim quoted above, and others, but can't help thinking, as I did whilst watching, that the Demos sort of thinking [above] is wise and perhaps should carry slightly more weight. (I even wondered if the film had been commissioned or subsidised by some of the mysterious 'powers that be'!?)

Joel Thirchavelan

I find the film outrageous because my mum died in the tube bombing in London. I would like this film not to preview in the UK. I'm disgusted in you people for watching this racist film.

Kie, Chesterfield

I thought it was an amazing film, it was brilliant and funny. It was the perfect take on people like that. it's not racist or controversial, it's really well done.

James, Sheffield

Unlike 95% of the people condemning this film, I have actually seen it. I found it fantastic, in the usual Morris style. There were many truly laugh out loud moments, but this did not detract from the subject matter. As I left the cinema, I realised the other viewers looked how I felt - completely shell shocked. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but not just as a comedy. Chris Morris did extensive research into the subject matter and it shows, most impressively through the motivations of the suicide bombers. The realistic reactions of the characters and the casual way they are prepared to use their own lives, and those of innocent bystanders, will hopefully help our understanding of this phenomenon.

Dave (speaking to BBC Radio Sheffield)

"I was really shocked that these guys have made this film about terrorists - inept terrorists. I'm not blaming them for making the film, what I'm blaming is that our society now allows us to… All these people that died in the Tube and bus explosions in London, and they've made a comedy about similar things. To be quite honest, I'm absolutely disgusted."

BBC Radio Sheffield caller

"It's terribly important to laugh because it means [the terrorists] haven't won - they haven't changed us. Taking a bully seriously is what they want."

BBC Radio Sheffield caller

"Part of the human condition is getting through the hard times, being able to find humour within appalling circumstances."

BBC Radio Sheffield caller

"On the point of 'anything is laughable', I believe it is. Nothing terrible has ever happened to me in my life - maybe if something did, I'd have a change of view but up to this point, I don't think there's anything you can't laugh at."


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific