From There To Here: Recreating an iconic era

Thursday 22 May 2014, 10:36

James Strong James Strong Director

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To be sent a script from Pete Bowker for the BBC One series From There To Here and be asked to read it is a very exciting prospect.

To then open it and immediately have a personal connection to the events was unbelievable.

In 1996 I was living in Manchester training as a director with Granada TV and was walking towards the Arndale Centre when the IRA bomb went off.

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Watch the trail: 'Ever since the Arndale bomb it feels like one life isn't enough'

I vividly remember suddenly being knocked off my feet, staring up at a beautiful blue sky and the complete silence all around, immediately followed by a wall of sirens, alarms and chaos in the immediate aftermath.

Having lived in the Manchester of the mid-90s I really wanted to accurately capture the feel of the period: the clothes, the fashion and most importantly the music.

This is recent history so although initially one assumes not much has changed, our production team quickly realised everything had moved on.

The cars, the clothes, the phones and the fashion were all of their era - so extensive research into the footage and photos of the time all fed into our recreation.

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Euro 96: The legendary football match between England and Germany
 

Manchester's music scene was iconic so our soundtrack took on huge importance.

But I didn't want just a simple greatest hits parade, the music had to support and expand the narrative.

Our musical supervision was done by DJ Rob da Bank whose forensic musical knowledge allowed us to dig a little deeper and unearth those gems that were both iconic but had impact beyond simple nostalgia.

We also used the brilliant current Manchester band I Am Kloot to give us an authentic and yet determinedly Mancunian score.

From There to Here is about a family, but it is also the story of a city and a country during a time of great change.

The effects of which are explored through our fictional families. I wanted an ensemble who you believed were two real families.

We were incredibly fortunate to get (among others) Philip Glenister, Steven Mackintosh, Bernard Hill, Saskia Reeves and Liz White, who all threw themselves completely into the project.

In many ways their story mirrors the effect of New Labour over a few key years.

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Election 1997: Louise (Morven Christie) waits for the results with the family

From the desire for change before Blair’s election, the euphoria of his first moments in power and how this begins to wane as things like the credit crunch raise their head.

The genius of Pete's scripts is that these themes are examined in such a personal and emotional way.

You realise how much we are all part of a larger world.

I'm very proud of the series and feel very privileged to have been trusted with Pete's brilliant words.

It's a weird feeling to look back to that moment lying on the pavement looking at a clear blue sky, and think it'd still be so relevant to my life 18 years later.

James Strong is the director of From There To Here.

From There To Here is on Thursday, 22 May at 9pm on BBC One and BBC One HD. For further programme times please see the episode guide.

More on From There To Here
BBC Four: A Writer's Journey From There To Here
BBC News: TV drama From There To Here revisits 'optimism' of 1996
The Telegraph: From There To Here: how the IRA bomb changed Mancunians forever 
BBC Media Centre: From There To Here: Watch interviews writer Peter Bowker and the cast
BBC Writersroom blog: Peter Bowker: Writing 'A love letter to Manchester'

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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