The 'Rivers of Blood' speech

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David Boothroyd
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The 'Rivers of Blood' speech

Post by David Boothroyd »

One thing occasionally mentioned in the 50th anniversary commemorations of Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood' speech is that there are only fragments of the speech were filmed, by an ATV relief news crew, who missed the crucial end line.

Powell had sent an advance copy of the speech to ATV which was how they knew about it. But why would ATV have covered it? The speech was given on Saturday 20 April 1968, and ATV didn't have the midlands weekend contract which was still with ABC until the end of July 1968. It would never have appeared as local news until Monday. Did ABC have a midlands newsgathering operation?

ATV famously had a reputation for caring little about news nor about their region, though I think the reputation is probably exaggerated. But could Powell have done better if ABC had been there?

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Simon Coward
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Re: The 'Rivers of Blood' speech

Post by Simon Coward »

There was no local news broadcast at the weekend in the midlands, but then although Powell was a local MP and speaking locally, he was also a national political figure who had been in the cabinet and was, at that point, in the shadow cabinet. So although his speech may have had particular resonance in parts of the midlands because it was one of the areas to have attracted immigrants in quantity it was, as I understand it, primarily a response to the Labour Party's Race Relations Bill, which was working its way through parliament at the time.

So the speech would, potentially, be of national interest.

As for ATV midlands sending cameras, did ATV have cameras in the midlands? The local studio was crewed by Alpha Television, a company owned jointly by ATV and ABC, so I would imagine that the local camera ops were Alpha folk rather than ATV folk. So does this mean that it was ATV in Elstree who sent cameras? They couldn't just organise people from Alpha to go out willy-nilly, as presumably staff were already booked by ABC.
We all have to eat a peck of dirt before we die.

JezR
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Re: The 'Rivers of Blood' speech

Post by JezR »

ABC's forte was more of a topical magazine show than straight news which might have been ideal for coverage of this issue, but they had already decamped the team behind such programmes down to London to prepare for making Today for Thames.

fatcat
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Re: The 'Rivers of Blood' speech

Post by fatcat »

Simon Coward wrote: As for ATV midlands sending cameras, did ATV have cameras in the midlands? The local studio was crewed by Alpha Television, a company owned jointly by ATV and ABC, so I would imagine that the local camera ops were Alpha folk rather than ATV folk. So does this mean that it was ATV in Elstree who sent cameras? They couldn't just organise people from Alpha to go out willy-nilly, as presumably staff were already booked by ABC.
Apparently 'Crossroads' use to borrow their film crews for location work,but as local news became more comprehensive and involved they could not carry on doing so.

Baron Bill
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Re: The 'Rivers of Blood' speech

Post by Baron Bill »

I would have thought that film crews who worked on Midlands News and ATV Today would, like the journalists, have been ATV rather than Alpha employees.

After Thank Your Lucky Stars ended in 1966, apart from epilogues, I believe the only programme ABC made at Aston was a local motoring magazine.

The following link may be of interest:

https://www.birminghampost.co.uk/lifest ... rt-5669482

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