- Brandon, 14, from Tamsworth, had crush on Muslim girl Mariam, from Saltley
- After speculation grew, she told him she was forbidden from having a boyfriend
- He compared the situation to Romeo and Juliet ‘without the dying bit of course’
- They appeared on last night’s episode of C4’s The Great British School Swap
A Tamworth boy discovered a cultural divide when he developed feelings for a Muslim girl in Channel 4’s The Great British School Swap.
In last night’s episode, Brandon, 14, was left disappointed when Mariam, from Saltley, told him she couldn’t pursue anything further than a friendship due to her faith.
‘So you know everyone is telling me that you like me, because of my religion I can’t be in a relationship,’ she explained. ‘My family have told me I can’t have any communication with boys until I’m married.’
But after seeing the spark between them, pupils and viewers alike were keen for the couple the get together – and even started a hashtag comprised of their names – Bariam.
‘Brandon is a legend for comparing his situation to Romeo and Juliet (‘without the dying bit of course’), wrote one, while another penned: ‘Crying. Needed Braniam to happen.’
Mariam continued: ‘I felt a bit embarrassed to tell him the reason I can’t be in a relationship is because of my religion.’
‘I felt a bit embarrassed to say it’s stopping me from expressing myself and being in love, but I’m glad I have a boundary and something I can follow until I’m about to get married.’
‘I’m not annoyed at her or her family, but I’m annoyed at the fact we both like each other and we can’t be together. It is what it is. Hopefully we’ll still end up getting together like Romeo and Juliet – but just not the dying bit.’
And while viewers were left saddened that the young romance could never blossom, they praised the students for handling the situation so well.
‘For Mariam to take that step and explain herself and her religion is such a brave thing to do,’ wrote one viewer. ‘What a beautiful young woman,’ while another commented:
‘I was rooting for Brandon and Mariam. Religion shouldn’t come in the way of love!’
A third added: ‘Brandon and Mariam are a bit young to have that conversation, but it breaks my heart that they are not allowed to spend time time as friends. It was wise of Mariam to explain it properly, but still very sad.’
Another commented: ‘Awww, I can’t with Brandon and Mariam. Such cuteness and now…heartbreaking. I’m not sure I, personally, will ever get over it. Even after they’ve both forgotten about each other. Which had probably already happened before this aired.’
In last night’s episode, viewers were told how Brandon went to live with his grandparents 10 months ago after going off the rails a few years back.
‘I got into trouble with the police 26 times in 18 months,’ he explained. ‘It got to the point that I was going to get put into care. I’m happy now. I don’t think about the past just the future.’
Meanwhile, Mariam was born in Birmingham and her family came to England from Pakistan.
‘In our family, we have boundaries – because we live here we follow the rules here but as we’re from Pakistani we follow those rules as well,’ said her mother, Maliha. ‘Over here, life is more free. They’re more open minded over what you want to do.’
Explaining her religion, Mariam added: ‘You have to follow all these rules that people around you are telling you to do. Sometimes I do wish I had the same freedom as white girls.’
And after class, Brandon is asked if he has feelings for Mariam.
‘She’s nice,’ he admitted. ‘She’s just small and cute and it’s one of those things isn’t it. It feels weird because I’ve had girlfriends in the past but I’ve never had feelings for someone from a different race.’
And when talking to her friend, Mariam explained: ‘I’ve never really had a white boy crush. I think dating for girls is forbidden but I think girls just want to experience it for themselves.’
‘If I was going out with Brandon I’d hide it from my parents, but I’m also scared of keeping secrets. It’s for our own good and I know it’s for our own good. It’s my religion.’
She continued: ‘I’d basically lose my parents trust in me. It’s more my mum, she’d be like, “I’ve trusted you so many times and this is what you do.” If my dad found out he’d say, “out of all people with a white boy?” It would be really bad.’
As speculation about the two continued to grow, Mariam decided to talk to Brandon about the situation.
‘I’m calm but it’s a bit stressful,’ he replied. ‘Obviously if you like someone you just don’t forget them like that.’
Mariam went on to explain to Brandon that if she wasn’t Muslim she would get to know him and give it a go – and viewers took to social media to express their opinion on the love story that never was.
‘The Brandon/Mariam situation would make a great film plot,’ wrote one, while another said:
‘Brandon just said he’s hoping for Romeo and Juliet with Mariam without the dying bit. HE IS PRECIOUS. The lovebug definitely got to him.’
A third added: ‘Really feel for Brandon and Mariam. They’re both clearly gutted nothing can happen between them.’