New Steve McQueen documentaries unveiled

Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent
·2-min read

Sir Steve McQueen has announced two new BBC documentaries – on one of the “biggest scandals in the history of British education”, and the Black Power movement.

Subnormal will examine how black children in the 1960s and 1970s were disproportionately sent to schools for the so-called ‘educationally subnormal’, the BBC said.

Black Power is described as a “searing account of the Black Power movement”.

Both “documentaries feature first-hand interviews with key participants in the events, many of whom are telling their stories for the first time”.

Sir Steve came up with the idea for both documentaries while working on Small Axe, his acclaimed series looking at the past experiences of London’s West Indian community, for the BBC.

The film-maker and artist, who will be executive producing both documentaries, said: “Looking at the past is an indication of what we have achieved today.

“These two documentaries show us how far we still have to travel for liberty and justice.”

BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore said: “These are important stories from our recent history that still resonate today.

“Steve McQueen has assembled a talented team of creatives to make these two documentaries that shine a light on the experiences of young black people from the 1960s and 1970s, sharing rare archive and enabling us to hear directly from key individuals, many speaking for the first time.”

The Black Power documentary features archive of Martin Luther King
The Black Power documentary features archive of Martin Luther King (PA)

Black Power will air on BBC Two and iPlayer and examines how the Black Power movement came into being in the late 1960s and fought back against police brutality and racism.

It features archive of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael’s activities in Britain, as well as footage of leading figures in the movement in the UK.

Directed by George Amponsah, “it casts fresh light on the story of the young black people in the ’60s and ’70s who challenged the British establishment and helped to shape a new political and cultural landscape in the UK”.

Subnormal, directed by Lyttanya Shannon, tells the story of how “black parents, teachers and activists banded together to expose the injustice and force the education system to change.

“It explores the controversial debates on race and intelligence that led to the scandal and the devastating impact it had on the children affected.”

It will air on BBC One and iPlayer.