Channel 4 are running promos for a feature-length history special on Thursday 1st September at 9pm – The Year London Blew up: 1974 – and the opening line on the Channel 4 site certainly sounds interesting – “What happens when a city faces a cell of fanatics with a single goal: to bring the maximum terror to the civilian population?” – that’s the IRA cell known as the Balcombe Street gang. Even more interestingly, it’s a co-production with RTÉ.. which broadcast it in two parts back in March of this year – viewing figures here. Meanhwile, the headline on An Phoblacht‘s review of the March showing on RTÉ is perhaps the best indicator as to whether its worth watching “Propaganda posing as history” [scroll down] – definitely worth watching then.
The Channel 4 description of the programme is as follows –
Told through documentary, drama and first-hand accounts, this feature-length history special is a unique account of the most ruthless IRA bombing campaign ever to hit mainland Britain.
Although The Sunday Business Post took a different line in its review of the programme when it was shown on RTÉ, complaining that –
The Year London Blew Up was a powerful reminder of a dark and terrible time. But it came nowhere near explaining why or how individuals could attune themselves mentally to leaving a car bomb in a city street, knowing the consequences.
The Sunday Business Post also helpfully reminds us that the Balcombe Street gang, whose activities the programme covers – including the murder of Ross McWhirter – were led by Martin O’Connell and included Glasgow-born Hugh Doherty, brother of Sinn Féin vice-president Pat Doherty. They were released temporarily for a 1998 Sinn Féin ard fheis – before being granted early release on licence, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
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Living History 1968-74
A unique, once-in-a-lifetime 10-week course at Stranmillis University College Belfast featuring live, in-depth interviews with leading figures from this tumultuous era in Northern Ireland’s cultural and political history.
Live interviews with: Bernadette McAliskey, Austin Currie, Brid Rogers, Baroness Blood, Dennis Bradley, Baroness Paisley, Lord Kilclooney, Tim McGarry, Danny Morrison, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield and others…