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Documentary, presented by Lucy Worsley, which uses dramatised testimony to tell the story of a group of working-class women conducting a dangerous campaign for the vote.
What would you do to stand up for the rights you enjoy today? March? Hand out leaflets? As we approach the centenary of (some) women being given the right to vote in Britain for the first time, the BBC has ploughed considerable resources into a feature-length, dramatised documentary about the lead-up to the passing of The Representation of the People Act in 1918. And what those women did, the physical and emotional sacrifices they made, really hits home.
Suffragettes with Lucy Worsley (BBC One) brilliantly treads the line between Reithian historical documentary and vividly textured narrative. The pyrotechnics and stunt work you would more usually associate with big-budget drama are used judiciously to bring this never-more-relevant story to life.
The film is written and directed by Emma Frank whose work I was gripped by in Secret Agent Selection: WW2, which recently finished its first series on BBC Two. I hope there’ll be a second. Her instinct for character, whatever dramatic story is playing out behind, is truly exciting. Here she invites the women who fought and starved and endured brutal assault by the police to talk directly to camera, via records of the time and some superb acting. Worsley is a terrific ringmaster, breaking the fourth wall mid-drama to add context. But, paired with Frank, she steps back when personal testimony will have more power. They work beautifully together and I hope they collaborate again.
Once again we work for the extraodinary cinematographer Annemarie Lean Vercoe as part of her camera team. We also provided with our camera gear for the days with two units and the pick up days.
Director: Emma Frank
Writter: Emma Frank
Cinematographer: Annemarie Lean Vercoe
Focus Puller: Nacho Guzman
2nd Camera Operator: Barbara van Schaik
Production Company: Brook. Lapping