When television directors tackle relatively recent news events, there is a tendency to allow a current political climate to cloud our perception of the past. Depending on your point of view that climate could represent a distrust of ethnic communities and their incendiary influence upon modern Britain, or equally a distrust of the current political and police authorities bearing in mind the draconian curtailments of civil liberties and arguable persecution of such communities.
Despite being such a controversial subject this drama managed to depict powerfully depict both the dangers of simplistic and aggressive community 'nationalism', and those of simplistic and aggressive authoritarian responses. It also depicts the aforementioned dangers of allowing one separate news event to influence another, with an international terrorist operation becoming a mitigating factor in a community riot, purely for superficial reasons.
With a strong lead performance by a talented young actor, Karim comes across as primarily confused and alienated by both his country and his community for equal and opposite reasons. To the most militant of his Asian associates he is a 'coconut', or an Asian uncle tom for his integration into 'white' Britain. Britain fails him equally in misunderstanding the cause of his community's anger, responding to it foolishly and with little of the cool thoughtfulness required of a mature liberal democracy. We both like and hate Karim, we empathise with his anger yet condemn it, demand like his father that he take responsibility for his actions, yet are appalled in the way he is failed by the justice system.
Like Jimmy McGovern's Hillsborough or the Antonia Bird's recent Hamburg Cell, the Bradford Riots is television drama at its finest, both politically sharp and emotionally engaging it is another great example of the need for channel 4
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