Great Meadow Productions. Drama at its best.

Home Productions News People Contact

The violent clash between the police and the predominantly young Asian men of Bradford on the night of 7th July 2001 – subsequently known as the Bradford Riots – was widely covered by all sections of the media at the time. In the days and weeks that followed, anyone in the country who was reading their paper or watching the news was made aware of the millions of pounds of damage that was wreaked in the city on that night, the hundreds of police officers who were injured and the outrage of the local Asian businessmen and the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, at the destruction caused to the heart of the Pakistani community.

What is less well known is that since the night of 7th July 2001, one of the biggest police operations ever mounted in the United Kingdom (Operation Wheel) has resulted in the charging of 347 Pakistani men with violent disorder or riot. These men have been charged and sentenced solely on the evidence of police video coverage on the night of the disturbances. The judge who presided over the majority of the sentencing – Judge Gullick – has described the riot as “wholly gratuitous” and has explicitly rejected any suggestion that the reasons behind the riot should be a factor in his sentencing. He has further refused to make any distinction in his sentencing to reflect the part that each individual charged, took in the disturbances. Finally, he has failed to make any consideration in his sentencing regarding the hundreds of men who handed themselves in to the police and admitted their part in the riot.

This was the starting point for our film. At its most basic level it seemed to me that the sentencing and its aftermath bore witness to a series of shifts in the attitudes of the government, the police and the judiciary towards what might, only a few years ago, have been perceived as British Asians defending their community from the National Front but was now a wanton, unprovoked, unacceptable attack on the police which was to be punished severely. This in turn has provoked a profound shift in the attitudes of the parents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles of the young men involved who believed and trusted in the fairness of British justice and insisted that the young men should hand themselves in and face their punishment and are now left feeling utter disbelief and disillusionment at the severity of the punishments handed out and what this says about Britain’s attitude to them as fellow citizens.

Our film concentrates on young men because they are at the heart of the story. Our research has allowed Neil Biswas to create fictional characters based on many of the young men that he met who provide a unique insight into what it’s like to be a young Pakistani man living in the North of England today. These are not lives and experiences that British audiences are often invited to vicariously inhabit – if at all – and yet this is Britain – or part of Britain – as we know it.

Beyond the young men’s own experience the film touches on the ever widening gap between the beliefs and expectations of the first (and in some cases second) generation Pakistanis and their children. However, the tragic events of this film take this situation further by dramatising the distress and disbelief felt by the older generation at the sentences handed out to their children and the deepening anger and alienation of the children themselves.

A Great Meadow Productions / Oxford Film and Television production


Channel 4 – May 2006

Writer/Director: Neil Biswas
Producer: Nicolas Brown
Cast: Sacha Dhawan, Ace Bhatti and Victor Banerjee

Sales: C4i

Productions from Great Meadow