Belfast Telegraph

We can't run from history, says director of film about Enoch Powell

Infamous speech: Enoch Powell
Infamous speech: Enoch Powell

By Staff Reporter

The director of a Channel 5 documentary to be aired next week featuring excerpts from the late politician Enoch Powell's infamous "rivers of blood" speech says it is important not to "run away from our history".

Rivers Of Blood: 50 Years On features parts of the speech, played to more than 100 black and Asian people to seek their reaction.

It was played to families who first heard it in 1968, as well as their descendants.

The Channel 5 documentary comes as the BBC sparked controversy by announcing Powell's controversial anti-immigration speech will be read in full on Saturday for the first time, on Radio 4's Archive On 4 programme.

Geoff Small, who directed the Channel 5 documentary, said he was shocked to discover that "so many young people had never heard of Enoch Powell".

"It's important to look at his prophecy and whether or not that's come true," Small said.

"But more to the point, from a non-white perspective, these people about whom he was speaking have an opportunity to give their view on race relations and on how it has changed over the last 50 years," he said of the Channel 5 film.

The documentary explores personal stories of what it means to be black or Asian in Britain today, on the 50th anniversary of the speech.

It "tells the highly personal story of multicultural Britain over the past half-century through the eyes of several generations", the broadcaster said.

"Enoch Powell's speech was probably the most incendiary speech on race relations ever delivered in this country," Small said. "Generally speaking, there is a lot more optimism about race relations now and the future of race relations.

"But if you go online and Google 'Enoch was right' you find a lot of people on the far right who agree with Powell's views."

'Rivers Of Blood: 50 Years On' airs on April 20 at 10pm on Channel 5.

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