Socialist Worker

Face at the Window: gripping TV drama on side of refugees

by Sally Murray
Issue No. 1832

An angry demonstration gathers outside a detention centre to protest against the deportation of refugees, chanting 'To send them back is murder!' A young refugee, traumatised by war, sits in a stark room being screamed at by insensitive officials. These are just two of the powerful scenes from the first episode of a new BBC TV drama, Face at the Window.

It's at 5pm on the prime time BBC1 slot aimed at teenagers. It is brilliant to see the BBC put on a children's drama that tackles serious political issues in an unpatronising way.

Face at the Window follows the story of what happens when two teenagers, Victoria and Robert, help a young refugee who escapes from a detention centre. Victoria and Robert have been taken by their mother to a demonstration outside the centre to protest at the treatment of refugees and against deportations. They discover a bewildered young boy who cannot speak English and has suffered unimaginably during the wars in the Balkans.

The authorities want him to give evidence in a war crimes trial. But he is so traumatised he can barely speak. The programme really makes you think.

What has happened in the Balkans? Should he give evidence? Are the children right to help him after he's escaped? Should they tell adults or the authorities? In one powerful scene Victoria confronts her mother about whether she would shield an asylum seeker if they escaped from the detention centre.

The argument they have isn't at all like the usual stereotypical rows shown between parents and children. This is about politics, not the generation gap.

The mother hates the callous treatment of refugees as much as her children do. But she confesses she would hand an escapee over to the authorities and says that it would be wrong to break the law. Victoria says, 'If it's a bad law then we ought to break it!'

Face at the Window is an exciting story, fast paced and full of tension. At the end of the first episode you are left on the edge of the seat, dying to know what happens next.

Face at the Window starts on Tuesday at 5pm on BBC1.

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Article information

Sat 4 Jan 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1832
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