Hillsborough – tape 2350

This tape opens with then end of an episode of Is It Legal, with Imelda Staunton and Patrick Barlow.

There’s a nice Channel ident featuring Clive James and Margarita Pracatan.

Then we have Hillsborough. Jimmy McGovern’s drama based on the events at the Hillsborough stadium when 96 people died and hundreds were injured because of catastrophic overcrowding and crowd management by the police at an FA Cup semi final in April 1989.

I remember when I first heard about Hillsborough. My older sister had been listening to the news in her car, and I met her outside our parents’ house. She was crying, which was pretty unusual for her, and she told me about what had happened. I don’t have much experience of watching football – it’s my sisters who are the big fans, so naturally, she was horrified and deeply upset by the news coming in from the ground.

It’s doubly sad to consider that Hillsborough is still a current news issue. Because of the cover up of responsibility over the tragedy, right now, in 2015, new inquests are being held over the deaths of the 96 people, and even now we are hearing some admissions of failure for the first time. That’s 26 years since it happened.

The drama itself opens quietly, with little vignettes of the characters we’re going to be following, showing a scene for each when they receive their tickets for the game. The joy they all feel is tempered by our knowledge of what’s to come. There’s no ominous music or dramatic lighting. All the foreshadowing comes from the viewer.

The scenes when the crush happens are harrowing. The police are either paralysed by indecision or assuming that trouble has been started by the fans. Ambulances aren’t allowed on the pitch because ‘they’re still fighting’. And when Christopher Eccleston and his wife have just identified the bodies of their two daughters, and are giving statements to the police, they are asked how much they’d had to drink. It’s being made clear here that the police are looking to shift the blame away from themselves.

The programme is split by the news – something I’ve never liked. One of the top stories is “new demands tonight from the Hillsborough relatives.” Their fight for justice was still going on, and is still going on today.

When Hillsborough resumes, the lies start. A policeman is seen telling a reporter that fans were stealing from the bodies. The reporter follows up the tip on the phone. “You’re telling me you left the bodies unattended. You didn’t close the area off? You’re saying to me that you watched people robbing from the dead and you didn’t arrest one single person? Do you think he’s going to buy that? Do you think the editor’s a total bloody nutter?”


Sun Hillbrorough headline

A lovely piece of commentary.

The programme takes the story up to the inquest, where, after plenty of police evidence that was disputed by the families, a verdict of accidental death was returned, rather than one of unlawful death which the families wanted.

The final caption sums everything up.

Hillsborough caption


This is an angry programme designed to make you angry, and it succeeds. I wonder, when there is some final resolution of this story, whether Jimmy McGovern would write a concluding part.

After the programme, recording continues with a programme which appears to have a title sequence, but doesn’t actually show the title of the show. But I believe it’s Max Monroe: Loose Cannon. The episode is called Freaks and for all you credit spotters, the story is by genre stalwart Brian Clemens.

After this, there’s Shed Seven at the Forum. I must confess I know nothing of these troubadors, nor of any of their hit singles.

The tape runs out during this show.

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One comment

  1. Trivia: the star of “Max Monroe: Loose Cannon,” Shadoe Stevens, took over hosting the “American Top 40” from Casey Kasem on radio (but not on TV).

    I hope Dean Hargrove regrets the show – writing for “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” producing “Columbo,” bringing back Perry Mason… and then he does THAT?

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