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29 October 2014
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All White In Barking: Monty and Betty. ©Marc Isaacs

White season

BBC Two explores what it means to be white and working class in 21st century Britain

The white working class in Britain is put under the spotlight this winter on BBC Two, in a season of unflinching programmes examining why some sections of this community feel increasingly marginalised today.


As political parties debate the way forward for immigration, debate rages in the media and the popularity of the far-right continues to rise in some sections of society, the White season explores the complex mix of feelings that lead some white working class people to say they feel under siege and as if their very sense of self is being brought into question.


Roly Keating, Controller, BBC Two, says: "It's BBC Two's role to reflect contemporary society and this is a timely moment for us to examine the roots of this debate. The White season is a complex look at how life has changed for the white working class in Britain. It will enable the audience to consider the views and circumstances of people who have a strong point of view and join in the debate, both online with the BBC and in their own homes and communities."


The season opens on Friday 7 March 2008 with Last Orders, an observational documentary made by BAFTA-nominated film-maker Henry Singer, who spent three months living in Bradford, capturing the lives of the members of Wibsey Working Men's Clubs.


The white working class was once regarded as the "backbone of the nation", but many now feel that their community is under threat and largely forgotten by the Government.


The season continues with Rivers Of Blood, Denys Blakeway's fresh assessment of the impact of Enoch Powell's speech – arguably one of the most important in Britain in the last century – and traces its subsequent effect on immigration policy and the rise of multiculturalism in the UK.


Compelling drama comes from White Girl, written by Abi Morgan (Tsunami: The Aftermath, Sex Traffic) and starring Anna Maxwell Martin (Bleak House).


White Girl focuses on an inspirational 11-year-old girl, Leah, her family's relocation to an entirely Muslim community in Bradford and her feeling of isolation, which is heightened at school when she discovers that she and her siblings are the only white children.


But Leah views the Muslim culture and faith with innocent fascination, finding a refuge of calm and safety which is in sharp contrast to the pain and sadness at home.


A provocative and emotional drama, it explores the hope as well as the tension that can arise when two very different cultures collide.


Following his hit film about The Zimmers, Tim Samuels journeys to Peterborough taking a subversive look at the reality of the impact of immigration in Middle England in The Poles Are Coming.


As Gdansk's leaders travel to Peterborough to plead with their countrymen to come back to a Poland where there is a shortage of workers, the programme asks what would happen to our economy if they did leave and whether any will be tempted away.


Meanwhile, in Birmingham's Handsworth area, The Primary captures a term in the life of Welford Primary School, a thriving school with pupils from 17 different ethnic backgrounds. The film follows headmaster Chris Smith and the pupils at Welford revealing what life is like for nine-year-old Nathaniel, 11-year-old Aleyx and their diverse peer group, Mariam, Saubia, Conrad and Xhosa.


Wrapping up the season is a Storyville special from director Marc Isaacs, All White In Barking. Observing relationships and questioning prejudices in a multi-cultural East London community, Isaacs explores life in Barking for its residents, both indigenous and immigrant, revealing a multitude of modern attitudes in an increasingly multicultural Britain.


Supporting the season, discussions will be held across the BBC's different platforms including BBC Two's Newsnight and at, an accompanying website offering an in-depth look behind the scenes of all the films with interviews from the creators plus the opportunity for viewers to further debate and comment on the issues raised by the films.


And there will be a number of films and radio broadcasts which delve into the BBC archive to further explore working men's clubs, politics of the working class, immigration and some working class heroes including Michael Caine, Bessie Braddock and George Best.


Video Nation will also be visiting individuals across the country, creating 20 new films about life in their communities.




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