Arena looks at three stories of industrial and national uprising that have been brought to light in this weeks news headlines. Featuring the protests of Britain's miners in 1984, the republican activities of the Irish poet Brendan Behan and finally, India's long road to independence.

30th Anniversary of the Miners' Strike

2014 not only marks 30 years since Spitting Image first appeared on our screens but is also the 30th anniversary of the 1984 - 85 miners' strike.

BBC Radio 4 programme 'The Reunion' discusses the legacy of the 1984 miners' strike

The folk singer, playwright and life-long political activist Ewan MacColl sang about the impartiality of the media's coverage of the miners' strike in a song called 'The Media'. Here it is performed for Arena by his children Neill, Kitty and Calum in our 1990 documentary 'The Ballad of Ewan MacColl'.

Ewan MacColl song 'The Media', performed by his children Neil, Kitty and Calum

Ewan MacColl strove to put theatre, literature and music at the service of political campaigning on behalf of working people. He took inspiration from his humble surroundings, remarking 'Salford was my Paris'. His wife and long-term collaborator Peggy Seeger describes his pragmatic approach to song writing...

Wife of singer and political activist Ewan MacColl describes his approach to song writing

The support from the most impoverished members of the local mining communities was a great inspiration for many miners who took part in the strike of '84. In a forthcoming feature documentary 'Still The Enemy Within', produced by Bad Bonobo Productions, the miners who took an active role in the dispute tell their story of the longest national strike in British history. The film premiers at the Sheffield Documentary Festival in June.

In this preview, ex-miners Steve Hamil and Howard Wilson recall how the smallest donations to their cause had the most profound effect on their morale.

Preview from upcoming film 'Still The Enemy Within' produced by Bad Bonobo Productions

Irish State visit to the UK

Last week marked a historic moment with the first state visit by an Irish head of state to England. Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina spend four days in the UK and were guests of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle.

BBC News at Five O'Clock reports on the Irish President's first state visit to England

The 1991 film 'Three Irish Writers' looked back on the lives and work of three of Ireland's most famous and provocative poets and writers, Flann O'Brien, Patrick Kavannagh and Brendan Behan. Behan was born in Dublin in 1923, a poet and playwright he came to prominence with the play 'The Quare Fellow', a portrait of prison life in Ireland. Behan became a member of the IRA from an early age and as a consequence spent much of his early 20s behind bars for republican activities. It was there, in Mountjoy Prison Belfast, where he heard the 'Auld Triangle' of the prison bell along the banks of the Royal canal and wrote the lyrics to what became a modern Irish anthem.

Interview with Irish poet Brendan Behan, and a history of his song 'The Auld Triangle'

On Thursday 10th April, Irish President Michael D Higgins' state visit to the UK concluded with an evening's celebration of Irish music and culture at the Royal Albert Hall. The final song was a rousing rendition of Behan's 'Auld Triangle' sung by a host of Irish musicians including Elvis Costello, Glen Hansard, Imelda May, Paul Brady and Conor J O'Brien.

A host of renowned Irish musicians sing a version of Brendan Behan's 'Auld Triangle'

 

2014 Indian Elections

 

This week saw the start of India's general election, the largest vote ever held with more than 814 million Indians eligible to vote.

 

BBC News reports on the start of the Indian Election

 

As India embarks on this historic election, Arena looks back at the history of the resistance and overthrow of colonial power from the 1991 film 'Stories My Country Told Me'. Indian political scientist and writer, Eqbal Ahmad, travels along the Grand Trunk Road explaining the history and context from which Indian Nationalism arose.

 

Eqbal Ahmad expains the history and context from which Indian Nationalism arose

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