A micro-history of Britain is unfolding at Raven Row. But this isn’t the history of kings and wars and empires. This is the history of the people, told by the people.
The endless screens of the newly reopened Raven Row are showing videos by the BBC’s Community Programme Unit, a division of Auntie dedicated to allowing everyday folk to make films about the issues that mattered to them. It closed in 2004, but before that it racked up hundreds of films by hundreds of people, giving the good taxpaying citizens of the UK budgets, editorial freedom and a film crew to tell their stories. It’s like American cable-access TV, but in Scunthorpe.
It’s all captured on grim, grainy, grey film; it’s brutally nostalgic, intensely transportive. It starts with the CPU’s earliest work in the 1970s. There’s a play about the struggle for employment benefits, a debate about pelican crossings, a documentary about builders from Skelmersdale helping rebuild an earthquake-ravaged Italian town. There are films by the National Unions of the deaf, the Merseyside Chinese community, the Campaign Against Racism in the Media. There are comedy shows, punk zines, musical performances. It’s staggering, incredible, a beautiful window into the communities of 1970s Britain, their struggles, passions, battles, beliefs. These are the people who cared, and you can tell.
For more information visit: https://www.timeout.com/london/art/people-make-television