A historical television series that focuses on the impact of the Underground Railroad during the 19th century, "Underground" offers viewers a message of social progress that's just as relevant in 2017.
This episode sees the racial unrest that is sweeping the United States reach British shores as Enoch Powell launches his tirade against immigration. But racial harmony can be found at the 'all-nighters' that take place in 1968, where disillusioned young people, black and white, escape the boredom of factory life to dance the night away to imported soul music. In Newcastle, the haven of equality found at the Carlton Ballroom all-nighter is destroyed when a young black girl, Dolores Kenny, is murdered, leading Gently to uncover a disturbing and racialist undercurrent growing within the local community. Written by
BBC Media Centre
Various characters were shown watching Enoch Powell's infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech on TV. This dates the episode exactly, as the speech was made on 20 April 1968 to the General Meeting of the West Midlands Area Conservative Political Centre. Gently refers to Dr. Martin Luther King in the past tense. King had been assassinated earlier in the month on April 4. See more »
When Jim is chasing Charlie Watt through the scrapyard a camera operator is visible in the background just as Jim puts his right hand on the hull of a blue boat. See more »
The night after Delores Kenny, a black girl, and her friend Carol attend an all night dance at the 'Northern Soul' night at the local dance hall she is found dead on nearby waste ground with her head smashed in. A murder investigation is started although there isn't an obvious motive; she had twenty pounds on her so it is unlikely that it was a robbery gone wrong and despite Sgt. Bacchus' theory that she might have been a prostitute there was no indication that she had had sex recently. Once her identity is established Bacchus is sent undercover into the club; here he meets Delores' boyfriend Charlie Watts who is the son of a bigot and Carol; he quickly strikes up a friendship with the latter and ends up at the local swimming baths kissing her! It quickly becomes apparent that there is a problem with racism in the area; Delores father gets a horrid letter from somebody who claims to be glad she is dead; this is traced to a landlady whose house has an infamous 'No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs' sign in the window she isn't the killer though; just another small minded bigot. As the case progresses more possible motives arise; Delores was pregnant, her father had embellished his war record to make him sound like a hero and Charlie's brother dealt drugs at the dances. The police will have to work their way through a number of suspects before the tragic truth about Delores' death is established.
This story gets the fifth series of 'Inspector George Gently' off to a cracking start; we have an interesting mystery as well as some worthy social commentary which for the most part isn't too heavy handed. Martin Shaw does a fine job as Insp. Gently but it is Lee Ingleby who really shines in this story as Sgt. Bacchus takes the limelight. Gently is a good character but Bacchus is more fun as he constantly shows his petty prejudices in a way that usually makes him look ignorant rather than malicious and he tends to see things the right way in the end. Eamonn Walker put in a fine performance as Delores' Father; a man who was desperate not be become prejudiced himself even when he was the victim of so much bigotry and Lenora Crichlow was a delight as Carol; one can see why Bacchus liked her so much. There were some laughs to be had but parts made uncomfortable viewing as we see the racist views held by many characters. When the truth about her death does emerge it is both shocking and tragic. If the rest of this series is as good as this I'll certainly be happy.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?