Uprising

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  • About

    From executive producer and co-director Steve McQueen, Uprising is the extraordinary three-part story of three intertwined events in the UK from 1981: The New Cross Fire which killed 13 young Black people, the Black People’s Day of Action, and the Brixton riots. The series will reveal how these events are connected through interviews with those involved and rare archival footage, and how, in the process, race relations were defined for a generation.

    Uprising: Fire (Part 1)
    Amidst rising racial tensions, a fire kills thirteen young black people at a party.

    Wayne Haynes and Denise Gooding recount the highs and lows of growing up in South London, as tensions with the police rise and the National Front brings racism to the forefront of local politics.

    In the early hours of January 18th, 1981, in a house in South London, a birthday party ended in a fire. Thirteen young black British people died. The fire and its aftermath would ignite an uprising by the black British community. Fire - part 1 of the Uprising series - tells the stories of the young people who were at the party and the events that led up to it.

    The series begins by chronicling the build-up to the deadly fire in New Cross, South London. It introduces some of the young people who would go to the party as they share their experiences of growing up black and British amidst the escalating tensions and violent racism of the 1970s. Their lives bring them into contact with police harassment, the rise of the National Front and the dramatic confrontation of the ‘battle of Lewisham.’ Sound systems, Lover’s Rock and Reggae music offer an escape to these young people, but when 16-year-old Yvonne Ruddock decides to have a birthday party, it ends in a tragedy with far-reaching consequences.

    Uprising: Blame (Part 2)
    Blame deals with the aftermath of the New Cross fire and the run up to the Black People’s Day of Action. It tracks the experiences of the victims and their families as the local community and the police seek answers as to how the fire started.

    As news spreads about the fire at 439 New Cross Road, parents and relatives rush to find news of their loved ones. The scale of the tragedy overwhelms the local community. 13 young people die and dozens more are injured. Forensic experts search through the ashes and the police start their investigation.

    Witness testimony suggests the cause may be a firebomb thrown through a window. Local activists fear a racist attack and form the New Cross Massacre Action Committee. But the forensic evidence does not support the firebomb theory and the police focus their attention on the young partygoers. The families of the victims receive racist hate mail and bomb threats. Anger mounts at the police investigation and the seeming indifference of the press and the government to the loss of so many black lives. The Black People’s Day of Action, a mass demonstration, is organised to bring the tragedy to the attention of the nation.

    Uprising: The Front Line (Part 3)
    The Front Line tells how an unprecedented wave of riots swept the nation in 1981. After the New Cross fire and the Black People’s Day of Action, tensions that have been brewing with the police boil over when a massive stop and search operation is launched, targeting black people on the streets of Brixton.

    Brixton in 1981, with its sound-system scene and close-knit community, provided a welcome relief to the outside world of National Front racism. But young Black people in Brixton feel the pressure of daily encounters with the police. The backdrop of the New Cross fire and the Black People’s Day of Action adds to an atmosphere of distrust and anger. When the police launch Operation Swamp to combat

    Brixton’s high levels of street crime, it brings tensions to a boiling point, as young Black people find themselves stopped and searched several times a day. On April 10th, an open conflict breaks out with the police. Over the weekend, it turned into one of the biggest riots in British history. Buildings are burned down and hundreds of police injured. Margaret Thatcher’s government asks Lord Scarman to lead an inquiry into what happened. But no sooner has he started, riots flare up all over the country from Southall to Toxteth. His report will form the first official reckoning of the breakdown of relations between the black community and the police. But, as 1981 draws to a close, following an inconclusive inquest, the families of the victims of the New Cross fire are no closer to knowing who started the fire or why. And a lack of answers and justice has lingered over this case ever since. With testimony from those who lived these traumatic and turbulent events, the series reveals how they intertwined and defined race relations for a generation.

Press Contacts
Chris McLaughlin
Kit Chavers
Country Availability

Canada, United States

Executive Produced By

Steve McQueen, Nancy Bornat, James Rogan, Soleta Rogan, Tracey Scoffield, Anna Smith Tenser, David Tanner

Directed By

Steve McQueen, James Rogan

Assets

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Show Description

From executive producer and co-director Steve McQueen, Uprising is the extraordinary three-part story of three intertwined events in the UK from 1981: The New Cross Fire which killed 13 young Black people, the Black People’s Day of Action, and the Brixton riots. The series will reveal how these events are connected through interviews with those involved and rare archival footage, and how, in the process, race relations were defined for a generation.

Uprising: Fire (Part 1)
Amidst rising racial tensions, a fire kills thirteen young black people at a party.

Wayne Haynes and Denise Gooding recount the highs and lows of growing up in South London, as tensions with the police rise and the National Front brings racism to the forefront of local politics.

In the early hours of January 18th, 1981, in a house in South London, a birthday party ended in a fire. Thirteen young black British people died. The fire and its aftermath would ignite an uprising by the black British community. Fire - part 1 of the Uprising series - tells the stories of the young people who were at the party and the events that led up to it.

The series begins by chronicling the build-up to the deadly fire in New Cross, South London. It introduces some of the young people who would go to the party as they share their experiences of growing up black and British amidst the escalating tensions and violent racism of the 1970s. Their lives bring them into contact with police harassment, the rise of the National Front and the dramatic confrontation of the ‘battle of Lewisham.’ Sound systems, Lover’s Rock and Reggae music offer an escape to these young people, but when 16-year-old Yvonne Ruddock decides to have a birthday party, it ends in a tragedy with far-reaching consequences.

Uprising: Blame (Part 2)
Blame deals with the aftermath of the New Cross fire and the run up to the Black People’s Day of Action. It tracks the experiences of the victims and their families as the local community and the police seek answers as to how the fire started.

As news spreads about the fire at 439 New Cross Road, parents and relatives rush to find news of their loved ones. The scale of the tragedy overwhelms the local community. 13 young people die and dozens more are injured. Forensic experts search through the ashes and the police start their investigation.

Witness testimony suggests the cause may be a firebomb thrown through a window. Local activists fear a racist attack and form the New Cross Massacre Action Committee. But the forensic evidence does not support the firebomb theory and the police focus their attention on the young partygoers. The families of the victims receive racist hate mail and bomb threats. Anger mounts at the police investigation and the seeming indifference of the press and the government to the loss of so many black lives. The Black People’s Day of Action, a mass demonstration, is organised to bring the tragedy to the attention of the nation.

Uprising: The Front Line (Part 3)
The Front Line tells how an unprecedented wave of riots swept the nation in 1981. After the New Cross fire and the Black People’s Day of Action, tensions that have been brewing with the police boil over when a massive stop and search operation is launched, targeting black people on the streets of Brixton.

Brixton in 1981, with its sound-system scene and close-knit community, provided a welcome relief to the outside world of National Front racism. But young Black people in Brixton feel the pressure of daily encounters with the police. The backdrop of the New Cross fire and the Black People’s Day of Action adds to an atmosphere of distrust and anger. When the police launch Operation Swamp to combat

Brixton’s high levels of street crime, it brings tensions to a boiling point, as young Black people find themselves stopped and searched several times a day. On April 10th, an open conflict breaks out with the police. Over the weekend, it turned into one of the biggest riots in British history. Buildings are burned down and hundreds of police injured. Margaret Thatcher’s government asks Lord Scarman to lead an inquiry into what happened. But no sooner has he started, riots flare up all over the country from Southall to Toxteth. His report will form the first official reckoning of the breakdown of relations between the black community and the police. But, as 1981 draws to a close, following an inconclusive inquest, the families of the victims of the New Cross fire are no closer to knowing who started the fire or why. And a lack of answers and justice has lingered over this case ever since. With testimony from those who lived these traumatic and turbulent events, the series reveals how they intertwined and defined race relations for a generation.

Supporting Documents

Uprising - Press Kit download icon

Credits

Executive Producers
Steve McQueen
Nancy Bornat
James Rogan
Soleta Rogan
Tracey Scoffield
Anna Smith Tenser
David Tanner

Series Producer
Helen Bart

Directors
Steve McQueen
James Rogan

Production Companies
Rogan Productions
Lammas Park
Turbine Studios
Amazon Studios

Episode Descriptions

Uprising: Fire (Part 1)

Amidst rising racial tensions, a fire kills thirteen young black people at a party. Wayne Haynes and Denise Gooding recount the highs and lows of growing up in South London, as tensions with the police rise and the National Front brings racism to the forefront of local politics. In the early hours of January 18th, 1981, in a house in South London, a birthday party ended in a fire. Thirteen young black British people died. The fire and its aftermath would ignite an uprising by the black British community. Fire - part 1 of the Uprising series - tells the stories of the young people who were at the party and the events that led up to it. The series begins by chronicling the build-up to the deadly fire in New Cross, South London. It introduces some of the young people who would go to the party as they share their experiences of growing up black and British amidst the escalating tensions and violent racism of the 1970s. Their lives bring them into contact with police harassment, the rise of the National Front and the dramatic confrontation of the ‘battle of Lewisham.’ Sound systems, Lover’s Rock and Reggae music offer an escape to these young people, but when 16-year-old Yvonne Ruddock decides to have a birthday party, it ends in a tragedy with far-reaching consequences.

Air Date: September 17, 2021

Uprising: Blame (Part 2)

Blame deals with the aftermath of the New Cross fire and the run up to the Black People’s Day of Action. It tracks the experiences of the victims and their families as the local community and the police seek answers as to how the fire started. As news spreads about the fire at 439 New Cross Road, parents and relatives rush to find news of their loved ones. The scale of the tragedy overwhelms the local community. 13 young people die and dozens more are injured. Forensic experts search through the ashes and the police start their investigation. Witness testimony suggests the cause may be a firebomb thrown through a window. Local activists fear a racist attack and form the New Cross Massacre Action Committee. But the forensic evidence does not support the firebomb theory and the police focus their attention on the young partygoers. The families of the victims receive racist hate mail and bomb threats. Anger mounts at the police investigation and the seeming indifference of the press and the government to the loss of so many black lives. The Black People’s Day of Action, a mass demonstration, is organised to bring the tragedy to the attention of the nation.

Air Date: September 17, 2021

Uprising: The Front Line (Part 3)

The Front Line tells how an unprecedented wave of riots swept the nation in 1981. After the New Cross fire and the Black People’s Day of Action, tensions that have been brewing with the police boil over when a massive stop and search operation is launched, targeting black people on the streets of Brixton. Brixton in 1981, with its sound-system scene and close-knit community, provided a welcome relief to the outside world of National Front racism. But young Black people in Brixton feel the pressure of daily encounters with the police. The backdrop of the New Cross fire and the Black People’s Day of Action adds to an atmosphere of distrust and anger. When the police launch Operation Swamp to combat Brixton’s high levels of street crime, it brings tensions to a boiling point, as young Black people find themselves stopped and searched several times a day. On April 10th, an open conflict breaks out with the police. Over the weekend, it turned into one of the biggest riots in British history. Buildings are burned down and hundreds of police injured. Margaret Thatcher’s government asks Lord Scarman to lead an inquiry into what happened. But no sooner has he started, riots flare up all over the country from Southall to Toxteth. His report will form the first official reckoning of the breakdown of relations between the black community and the police. But, as 1981 draws to a close, following an inconclusive inquest, the families of the victims of the New Cross fire are no closer to knowing who started the fire or why. And a lack of answers and justice has lingered over this case ever since. With testimony from those who lived these traumatic and turbulent events, the series reveals how they intertwined and defined race relations for a generation.

Air Date: September 17, 2021

  • Credits

    Executive Producers
    Steve McQueen
    Nancy Bornat
    James Rogan
    Soleta Rogan
    Tracey Scoffield
    Anna Smith Tenser
    David Tanner

    Series Producer
    Helen Bart

    Directors
    Steve McQueen
    James Rogan

    Production Companies
    Rogan Productions
    Lammas Park
    Turbine Studios
    Amazon Studios