Days of Hope by Ken Loach

In the 1990s LeftPress screened Ken Loach’s ‘Days of Hope’ which ends with the 1926 Miners Strike. Days of Hope is a BBC television drama serial produced in 1975. The series dealt with the lives of a working-class family from conscription in Britain during the First World War in 1916 to the General Strike in 1926.

Ken Loach has made many political films including ‘September 11, 1973‘ about the military coup in Chile. My favourite overtly political film of his was ‘Land and Freedom‘ about the Spanish Civil War. His major releases have included the beautiful film ‘Kees‘. After a life of making great films Loach received acceptance from his peers at Cannes. Ken Loach won his second Palme d’Or – the festival’s highest honour – for I, Daniel Blake, a social-realist drama about a disabled carpenter struggling with the red tape of the benefits system. The Wind That Shakes the Barley, about two brothers who join the IRA in the early 1920s, won the Palme d’Or in 2006.

Notes by Ian Curr

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Days of Hope

Originally televised on the BBC during September – October 1975 and subsequently on the ABC, this four part mini series Days of Hope, covers the period from the Great War to the General Strike of 1926. A legacy of a vanished era of radical television drama on the Beeb, the series remains an enduring memory shared by many who saw it.

Produced by Tony Garnett, written by socialist Jim Allen and directed by Ken Loach, Days of Hope seems destined never to be released on DVD. Screenings may be the only opportunity to see the series while the 30 year old 16mm prints held in the National Film & Video Lending Collection (now in the National Film & Sound Archive) are still in screenable condition.

1916: Joining Up

(GB 1975 99 mins) U15

Philip Hargreaves, a conscientious objector, is arrested and sent to France where he continues to refuse to obey orders. His wife Sarah works for an anti-war cause. His brother Ben enlists and is sent to Ireland.

1921: Lockout

(GB 1975 103 mins) U15

Ben Hargreaves is sent with his regiment to the Durham coalfields where miners have been locked out of the pits because they refuse to accept wage cuts. He deserts and then stays to help the strikers when they decide to fight back.

1924: The First Labour Government

(GB 1975 77 mins) U15

Philip Hargreaves is elected to parliament as a Labour MP in a minority government, and finds the realities of politics are not what he had imagined. Ben, radicalised by his experiences, joins the Communist Party.

1926: The General Strike *

(GB 1975 132 mins) U15

Scrupulously researched by Jim Allen, this is a blow by blow account of what happened behind the closed doors of Downing Street and the Trade Union Congress headquarters during the ten days of the great strike led by revolutionary elements in the trade union movement. Political tensions find personal expression in conflicts between members of the Hargreaves and Matthews families.

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