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 btw. 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. The headline on An Phoblacht‘s review of the March showing on RTÉ perhaps provides the best indicator as to whether it’s 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.