Twenty years ago Brassed Off was released and the country went brass band crazy.
A year earlier I’d been on location in Grimethorpe for a day’s shooting. I listened as Ewan McGregor and Tara Fitzgerald described the raw emotion of being a part of the story. I talked with writer/director Mark Herman about the roots of the film. I interviewed producer Steve Abbott about the film’s route to the screen. And I witnessed Pete Postlethwaite, with co-star Stephen Tompkinson, raging about the legacy of the Thatcher government and the rape of the Yorkshire coalfields.
Earlier this year I organised a reunion screening of the film at the Ilkley Film Festival. Present were Abbott, Tompkinson and fellow actor Philip Jackson; Mark Herman was poorly. To all of them Brassed Off represents that rare thing – a job that was much more than a job at the time, and which has taken on enormous meaning in the decades since.
On the night they also recorded interviews for producer Mark Burrows and it is his 60-minute documentary that emerged from their memories.
Today the government decided not to hold an inquiry into the ‘Battle of Orgreave’. Brassed Off is as relevant today as it was back in 1996, and holds a harsh spotlight up against a terrible period in modern British history.
Listen in tomorrow at 12 noon on BBC Radio Sheffield here.