BBC announces Uprising series from director Steve McQueen

The series will explore events including the 1981 Brixton riots.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Sir Steve McQueen will direct a three-part series exploring key events in race relations in Britain, the BBC said.

Uprising, co-directed by James Rogan, will explore the New Cross Fire, Black People’s Day of Action and the Brixton riots, which all took place over four months in 1981.

The BBC said the series will show how the events were intertwined and how they defined race relations for a generation.

Steve McQueen
Sir Steve McQueen will direct Uprising, a three-part series exploring key events effecting race relations in Britain, the BBC said (Matt Crossick/PA)

The January fire killed 13 black people while the day of action brought out more than 20,000 demonstrators. The Brixton riots took place in April 1981.

Sir Steve said: “It is an honour to make these films with testimonials from the survivors, investigators, activists and representatives of the machinery of state.

“We can only learn if we look at things through the eyes of everyone concerned; the New Cross Fire passed into history as a tragic footnote, but that event and its aftermath can now be seen as momentous events in our nation’s history.”

Rogan, who directed the BBC’s acclaimed Stephen Lawrence documentary Stephen: The Murder That Changed A Nation, said: “The New Cross Fire that claimed the lives of so many young people and affected many more remains one of the biggest losses of life in a house fire in modern British history.

“What happened and how Britain responded to it is a story that has been waiting to be told in depth for 40 years. In the series, survivors and the key participants will give their account of the fire, the aftermath, the impact it had on the historic events of 1981 ​​and the profound legacy it has left behind.”

Sir Steve and Rogan will also serve as executive producers on Uprising.

Uprising is set to air next year.

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