Jim Allen

As Amber began its Channel 4 Workshop franchise, it organised a weekend exploring the possibilities of film and television as a means of engaging with working class audiences, experience and concerns. Each session focused on one of the invited writers.

0.15: Talk of clip from Days of Hope from previous night. Barry Hines and ACTT’s Roy Lockett discuss previous talk.

1.45: “Autobiographical description from Jim Allen. His business of revolution and change. Does not give the audience the choice of neutrality. Running through work is an attempt to provoke change.
Days of Hope – a attempt to show the radicalisation of a family and where the working class went wrong. ”

5.20: After new extract from United Kingdom. Shot in Newcastle.Should have been shot in Manchester on a an estate where The Spongers was shot, directed by Roland Joffy. Film commissioned by London Weekend Television – Michael Grade. Film cancelled due to costs. Minority filming.

7.00: “Q. Did BBC impose restrictions on Days of Hope or United Kingdom?
Need for good strong producer. Tony Garnett. Produced 2-3 films a year. Hostility to Cathy Come Home. ”

8.00: Economic conditions dictate when minority filming are commissioned/produced. 60s full employment. 70s 3 million unemployed. No out right censorship. In TV subtle. TV appoint producers who don’t rock boat, on 3 year contracts.

12.55: Bernstein/Grade. Threat of breakfast television intervening in life. Cable increasing hours of TV a day.

14.00: “Q. Dialectic of writer and audience.
Political animal. Writing to make point.
New work on Zionism. ”

16.40: Q. Days of Hope. Garnett, Drawing on history to address issues in present. History is contemporary. Ireland – looking at present and projecting it into the past. IRA. Black and Tans.

21.00: Q. Philip Donnellan.

21.58: Q. Political plays. Risk too didactic. Important to see working class debate.

24.30: Q. Shop Steward. Right to conflict. To debate. Dialogue. The need to hear both sides of the argument. e.g. Ireland to present day and the past. Lessons of General Strike.

28.28: Q. Socialist intervention. Stuart MacKinnon Writer/Filmmaker. Jack Common, North East writer. 1930s filmmakers/writers need to join forces. Look to what cultural workers can build. ACTT. Alternative Institutional Organisations.

32.00: raising working class consciousness. British film industry dying. Looks and Smiles in Cinemas effective. Nature and relationship with the audience.

34.00: Lack of working class TV writers. Lack of opportunities. The Lump 1967. Cathy Come Home having impact and leading to changes. Documentary – Police film on rape. Documentary has greater impact than drama.

35.45: Philip Donnellan. Making TV/Films not easier in the 1960s. Controls more autocratic in the 1960s. David Mercer series wiped. Lack of radical material before The Lump. Lords of India, 1963. Hugh Weldon. History Workshops/Festivals looking at history of TV. Circulate among small group but radical.

38.30: Content is budget. Political climate in 1960s was different. Political establishment not threatened as now (early 80s). Channel 4 – anti-war film. Laurence Scott, Manchester.

40.40: NO AUDIO to 41.30

41.32: Better in making TV in the 1960s then now (early 80s)

41.49: Barry Hines. Looks And Smiles. No funds in UK. Commission money from France, Germany then later ITV. 1976, The GameKeeper. Tony Garnett in the mid 70s more accountable, with less independence. Why Ken Loach and Tony Garnett left the BBC.

43.17: Q. Philip Donnellan. Golden Agism. Why weren’t more radical pieces broadcast in those times?

43.44: Stuart MacKinnon Q. Socialists/radicals should look to different models of TV/Cinema.

46.55: ACTT. Workshop funded with state money. Autonomous. access to cinema and TV.

50.00: Unions nationalisation of the film industry, Union a political and cultural role. Battles with BFI, Channel 4. A Positive intervention. A radical demand changing minds within the union. Positive action not reforms. Broadcast programmes reflecting wider society feminist, radical, tenants, black communities. Creating alternatives/broadcasts

59.00: Guildism within unions. Protectionism. Day of Action Strike. Jim Allen’s experience of being a shop steward.

64.00: TUC. Day of Action. Nye Bevan. Keep the Bomb.

68.00: End of session

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