Film ID:
YFA 5861

ON THE MANOR: FIGHTING BACK

1987

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is one of a series of four themed programmes made by Yorkshire Television that aired in 1987 about life on the manor estate of council housing in Sheffield, consisting of events on the estate and interviews with, mostly unidentified, residents. This one focuses on a resident’s theatre group in the run up to the June General Election, reflecting both the demoralisation – because of unemployment, poor housing, poverty and untrustworthy politicians – and the fighting spirit of those living on the estate.  It was originally transmitted on 24th August, 1987.

The programme begins with a family in their living room watching the news on television with Nicholas Witchell announcing that Margaret Thatcher is calling the General Election for June 11th.  We then see first a car out electioneering for the Conservative Party, and then one for the Labour Party, for Sheffield central constituency.  Richard Caborn, the Labour Party candidate, is seen out canvassing.  Then one of the residents, at home, speaks about the mistrust that people feel for politicians and their promises.  The film switches to a room with some local residents who have formed themselves into a theatre group, with John Goodyear leading a discussion about unemployment.  One of the women explains that the idea of doing theatre came from John Goodyear.  He is then seen directing rehearsals of a play, with one of the women members explaining that a play is good way to put across points in an accessible way to people, and that she finds it relaxing.  

Again, we see the two cars out canvassing, and then a local resident leaving her house, which is situated to three houses all with bricked up windows.  She is then seen with her husband shopping in the local supermarket.  As they go around doing their shopping, she explains that they get in total, including family allowance, £78 per week, of which £20 goes on gas and electricity, leaving £14 for each of the family for everything else.  We then return to the family in their living room watching television, this time Thatcher giving closing conference speech at Blackpool in 1985, stating that, “It has always been the dream and the ambition of the Conservative Party that what used to be the luxuries of the few should become the daily experience, indeed the necessities, of the many.”

The film switches to show a man out walking his dog on a derelict piece of land on the estate, collecting small pieces of metal in a plastic bag in order to earn a few pounds.  He explains that he is unemployed and been unable to get a job, and that now that he is 40 no-one wants to know about him.  A woman resident, a Labour Party activist, speaking in her kitchen, talks about the desolation and hopelessness that people at the bottom feel.  Back at the local centre the women of the theatre group check the theatrical clothing and props, including five placards, one for each of the “5 evils” identified by William Beveridge in his 1942 Report: ignorance, idleness, squalor, disease and want.  One of the women speaks about the need to show some resistance.

Back with the family watching tv, this time with Neil Kinnock leading the singing of “we’ll walk hand in hand” at the close of the Labour Party Conference.  Another woman resident, also speaking in her kitchen, said that she used to vote Labour, and could never vote Tory because she is working class.  But that now she wouldn’t vote because she believed that all politicians are in it for themselves, and that Thatcher has no care for people living in the north.

Back with the family watching TV, this time with Ken Dodd doing the warm up act for Thatcher at a Tory election rally in Chester.  Thatcher is seen giving her speech, where she states that, “to the labour charge of being divisive I answer in one word, humbug”.  The theatre group are seen out travelling in their van heading along the A68 towards Jedburgh, near the turnoff for Harwich.  They get out at one point and lark around.

The Labour Party activist, speaking in her kitchen, talks about how people have got into debt when in work and found it tough when they have lost their jobs.  We then see a part of the play, set in a DHSS office, where a user is told that she cannot claim for certain benefits because Norman Fowler has abolished them.  Again, we see the candidates, Brian Oxley and Richard Caborn, out canvassing, knocking on doors; and again, we see another scene from the play.  

The Labour Party activist, still speaking in her kitchen, talks about the failure of labour over the last 50 years, but believes that this is now changing.  Back to the play, and as each of the placards for the “5 evils” are displayed, text is read out pointing up the position with regard to each today, revealing the terrible reality, in many ways worse than previous years.  Over this are accompanying images of illustrating the words.  Another resident talks about people have felt betrayed by the Labour Party.

Next, the family watching tv witness Neil Kinnock making a speech at the Labour Party Conference.  There is a brief look at polling station, before we see the theatre group driving in their van singing anti-Thatcher songs.  One of the members talks about the importance of keep going, despite the daily hardship, while Labour Party activist talks about the need for everyone to support each other.

As we hear the announcement that Thatcher has regained her parliamentary seat, we see images of derelict sites on the estate, and the film closes.

Yorkshire Television would like to thank the people of The Manor Estate, Sheffield for all their co-operation. 

Music – Stephanie Nunn
Graphics – Jim Slade
Associate Producer – Michael Burke
Research – Gary Horne
Production Assistant – Sue Hamelman
Sound Recordist – Chris Clarkson 
Dubbing Editor – Alan Briggs
Dubbing mixer – Steve Haynes
Camera – Alan Wilson
Film Editor – Barry Spink
Executive Producer – John Willis
Director/Producer - Peter Gordon
YTV 1987