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BBC Two reflect on the 1984 miners’ strike

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BBC Two reflect on the 1984 miners’ strike

Forty years on, BBC Two tells the story of a year in the lives of 15 ordinary men and women on the front line of the miners’ strike…

From the team behind the BAFTA-nominated and RTS-winning, Our Falklands War: A Frontline Story, this documentary brings together powerful archive footage with deeply personal testimony. Many are speaking for the first time, and with extraordinary candour, to explore one of the most divisive conflicts in a generation.

In March 1984, the vast majority of Britain’s coal miners went on strike against pit closures announced by the National Coal Board and backed by Margaret Thatcher’s government. They quickly find themselves against the full force of the police. Some miners don’t support the strike and go to work in defiance of it, finding themselves in conflict with former workmates as they try to cross the picket lines. Fault lines appear across counties, communities, and within families, split between support for the strike and defending the right to work.

This is the story of 15 men and women at the epicentre of that division – from both South Yorkshire where the miners are striking, and over the border in north Nottinghamshire where many are still working.

This documentary hears from those who went on strike, those who went to work, former police officers who stood on the frontline, the daughter of a striking miner, a woman who kept the soup kitchen open as her four sons were arrested, and two brothers who became divided by the decision to strike. Their stories and histories collide and overlap, offering first-person accounts in the heart of key moments of the year-long strike, as well as deeply personal moments of conflict and sacrifice that happened away from the glare of the cameras.

One striking miner reveals the heart-breaking sacrifice he had to make when he lost a child during the strike. Another miner recounts his decision to return to work in the striker’s’ heartland, under a hail of bricks and faeces. An ex-police officer speaks of feeling like a political pawn when receiving orders to help working miners through the picket lines. Elsewhere another miner recalls the death of another amidst violent clashes during a flying picket.

The conflict comes to a violent head on a sweltering day in June, at the so-called Battle of Orgreave, where 8,000 picketing miners are met by 6,000 police officers.

Against this backdrop of struggle, there’s humour, heart and camaraderie forged in the soup kitchens and on the back seat of a flying picket’s ‘battle bus’. The strike finally comes to an end on 3rd March 1985, but few emerged unscathed. This was the year that changed these 15 men and women – and the country – forever.

Miners’ Strike: A Frontline Story will air in a 90 minute slot tomorrow on BBC Two at 9 pm see it first on the iPlayer from 6am tomorrow (Sunday 18th February)

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