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Alexei at the Seaside with the Unions

Duration:
1 hour
First broadcast:
Saturday 11 September 2010

Alexei Sayle's parents were, in Liverpool, unusual; both Communists, his mother from a Lithuanian Jewish family, his father a railway union official. They gave their son Gorki's first name. For more than a decade from the late 1950's Alexei accompanied his parents to trade union conferences, mostly in seaside towns.

These were important times in British and international industrial politics. There were national strikes in shipbuilding and engineering; the redundancy without pay or notice of 6,000 car workers; the London bus strike; the fight for equal pay; responses to de-colonisation; the Aberfan disaster; Barbara Castle's 'In Place of Strife'.

On Saturday 11th Sept , with a repeat on Monday 13th - the day the 2010 TUC Conference opens in Manchester - Alexei selects the choicest pieces of archive to conjure the atmosphere of these important events. Set against this is his personal story of these years, his own interaction as a child with the characters involved, and his own development, politically, personally, even physically. And he brings his inside knowledge to bear...revealing how, for instance, the biggest bruisers were, at the closing balls, the most deft of dancers, and how comrades from France and Eastern Europe were nonplussed by their encounter with, for instance, Brown Windsor Soup.

Producer: Julian May.

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