Socialist Worker

Kiri veers into cliche but is still a worthwhile watch

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2587

Miriam, played by Sarah Lancashire, in the new Channel 4 drama Kiri

Miriam, played by Sarah Lancashire, in the new Channel 4 drama Kiri


The first episode of Kiri aired on Channel 4 last week. The 4-part drama focuses on a fostered nine year old girl who is killed after visiting her grandparents.

I found the first episode unengaging. You already know what’s going to happen because of the publicity.

When Kiri goes missing, the assumption is that her violent father has abducted her with the aid of the grandparents.

This could play to stereotypes about black men being dangerous criminals.

But there have also been hints that Kiri’s white foster mother is involved.

Sarah Lancashire plays Miriam, the social worker responsible for Kiri.

The first episode was when Miriam visits her mother. It seemed to show that family life isn’t always great.

The show does descend into cliche. Miriam’s a bit eccentric, a bit tough and she drinks. But it does show what social workers face whenever something goes wrong. Miriam and her line manager battle to escape the blame for Kiri’s death.

There’s a political row underlying the tragedy. Were social workers being “lefty” by letting Kiri visit her black grandparents unsupervised?

Was this about letting her “know where she comes from” before being permanently adopted by a white family? Should white people adopt black kids?

It’s not yet clear how the drama will handle these issues. And the characters aren’t developed enough—nor the plot—to say whether Kiri will get more interesting.


Illuminating India: photography 1857-2017

The British ruling class love a gory story, especially if they are the centre of attention.

In the wake of the 1857 Indian War of Independence—or Mutiny, as they would have it—the recently developed art of photography was despatched to India to record the devastation caused by soldiers revolting against their white officers.

Ruined garrisons and battle-scarred fortresses were captured and turned into postcards.

So successful were the photographs that soon a tourist industry developed, allowing wealthy Brits to make a pilgrimage to the sites of various outrages.

See the postcard snaps in this exhibition, and much more besides.

Science Museum, London, until 31 March. Free, but booking required. Go to sciencemuseum.org.uk

Working Class White Men

 

The problem with this programme is in its conception.

The central narrative of Working Class White Men is one of individual solutions.

It actually draws you away from talking about class, because the working class of course is multicultural.

The political message is very confused because the premise is a nonsense.

It gets slightly more interesting when Green explains that he grew up on a Hackney council estate and was the only white person in his school class. Racist behaviour was never a consideration.

Green also stands up to Britain First on a Rochdale demonstration. But the fascists get far too much publicity.

When all is said and done, reinforcing any idea of the “unique” experiences of “Working Class White Men” is downright dangerous.

Alan Kenny

Tuesdays at 10pm on Channel 4 and online at 4OD

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Article information

Reviews
Tue 16 Jan 2018, 11:28 GMT
Issue No. 2587
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