TV Review: Miners’ Strike 1984: The Battle for Britain – 8.5/10

‘They wanted us out of the way…’

While I was born three years after the end of the miners’ strike, I grew up with the scars of the controversial dispute very much within touching distance. My dad was a miner in his youth (he worked at Cortonwood Colliery – one of the first pits to come out on strike), my uncle was a miner at the time of the industrial action and many other family members, friends and acquaintances were either directly or indirectly affected by the events of 1984. Growing up in Doncaster means growing up in the shadow of coal mining. There is a sculpture dedicated to our mining heritage in the town centre. Many of the surrounding pit villages still haven’t recovered. This long preamble is to say that Channel 4’s recent documentary Miners’ Strike 1984: The Battle for Britain didn’t really teach me anything new. That being said, Tom Barrow’s excellent three-part documentary does tell the story in a way that is captivating and compelling – and from all sides of the conflict…

Charting the initial rumblings of the miners’ strike through to its bitter and heartbreaking conclusion, Barrow speaks extensively to the miners themselves and their families, but also to representatives of the police force, journalists and conservative party affiliates. I am not in a position to discuss bias on this topic as I am obviously biased one way myself, but it did feel as if striking miners and non-striking miners alike were given equal airtime to put their points across – often passionately and with pride. It would appear that the camaraderie of pit life and the feeling of togetherness was palpable in the coal mines and many of the ex-miners look back on the strike with a kind of melancholy wistfulness. It makes for a powerful and prescient time capsule of one of the most brutal examples of industrial action in history.

I could have turned this review into a long-winded political diatribe about the terrible toll that Thatcherism has wrought on my community but I’ll spare you from that, dear reader. Instead, I would implore anyone with even a passing interest in the miners’ strike to experience the first-hand accounts provided by this documentary. Excellent television.