A birthday party tragedy and the controversy that rages 40 years on: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews Uprising


rebellion

Rating:

Torn: Family Court Open

Rating:

At the dawn of the Internet, a Texas lawyer named Michael Godwin noticed that any online argument on any topic, usually landed in accusations of Nazism.

The longer this row went on, the more likely it was that someone would be compared to Adolf Hitler.

Today more true than ever, it is now known as Godwin’s Law – a term included in the Oxford English Dictionary.

TV has its own version. Call it the Iron Lady Theory – Mrs. Thatcher is to blame for all the evil in the world.

Any documentary on modern British history would have Margaret Thatcher’s soundbite, backed by generally ominous music, with her words taken out of context.

Whether it’s slapping an interviewer or giving a barnstorming speech at a Tory party convention, the footage is often shown from a different angle, to emphasize just how dangerous it is.

Image: Fire workers at the scene of a fire at New Cross House during a party at a house in New Cross, south east London, in the early hours of Sunday, 18 January 1981.

Image: Fire workers at the scene of a fire at New Cross House during a party at a house in New Cross, south east London, in the early hours of Sunday, 18 January 1981.

No filmmaker can mention Maggie’s grave without stamping her. It happens on every channel, but of course, Bieb hates it at its worst.

The Rebellion (BBC1), about the 1981 New Cross fire that killed 13 people, is cynically implied that it fueled the rise of the National Front in the late seventies.

Excerpts from a statement about immigration were edited, to give a completely false impression, and displayed next to the film of a dull skinhead rally in South London.

Such misrepresentation—sheer nonsense for anyone who knows the politics of the time—was not worthy of this three-part account, which is otherwise excellent.

Directed by Steve McQueen and James Rogan, it ties together Night of Fire with its already winding undercurrents of violence and subsequent repertoire.

There is no convincing evidence that the birthday party of two black teenage girls was deliberately set on fire.

The documentary bears testimony to a largely untold part of London's history.  Pictured: A protest in 1981

The documentary bears testimony to a largely untold part of London’s history. Pictured: A protest in 1981

However, many believe it was racially motivated. Arson was common – there was talk of light fuel spraying through the letterbox.

Many survivors are in deep shock and deserve great credit for telling their stories so clearly.

Some of his details were so vivid that we could almost feel the heat blisters on our faces.

The documentary, which continues tonight, testifies to a largely untold piece of London history.

Television does it better than any other medium. But TV directors wielding political axes have to resist the temptation to re-fight the battle of 40 years ago. Politics is not like boxing with automatic rematches.

Family Court sounded like boxing territory in Lewis Tikal’s sentimental report for the Dispatch.

After Ellie Yarrow-Sanders went missing with Ollie in 2018, police and court officials launched a hunt.  In his first interview since winning custody, he told dispatches to C4 why he did what he did.

After Ellie Yarrow-Sanders went missing with Ollie in 2018, police and court officials launched a hunt. In his first interview since winning custody, he told dispatches to C4 why he did what he did.

Torn: Family Courts Uncovered (C4) showed how custody disputes can be settled endlessly until one party collapses in exhaustion.

A mother-in-law named Jane faced 37 applications over eight years from her estranged partner, a convicted pedophile, who accused her of alienating her children against her.

If the parents fail to comply with the order to surrender custody, the scenes that follow are harrowing.

Phone footage showed police arriving at a woman’s house in the middle of the night to pick up her son and daughter, who were shouting that they did not want to leave.

Much of the evidence was circumstantial, as the 1960 law prohibited reporting of family court proceedings.

Many parents feel judges are actively hostile, making arbitrary decisions and even dismissing children’s statements.

The program sometimes got bogged down in legal jargon. But the warning was clear: Never rely on the family courts.

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