BBC sent to the Tower

by

Well at least its nice to know the Queen suffers at the lenses of the BBC like the rest of us.

BBC One chief: I won’t resign over Queen gaffe

Its impossible to believe that RDF editors didn’t know what they were doing or that the BBC didn’t check that this is what really happened (it got edited into a showreel so loads of people must have OK’d it before it was shown to journalists).

So what has this to do with the Tower? Well where to begin? Firstly when I met Angie Bass, an assistant producer on ‘The Tower’ a few years ago she tried to tell me that the program they were filming was educational. ‘So’ I replied ‘thats means it’ll be on BBC2 at 3am then?’. Blank look. I suggested that she was going to turn our estate into a piece of entertainment and exploit individuals who knew no better. Luckily so far all the people who appeared in it are keen to be on TV and good luck to them. Most of us aren’t. I wouldn’t let them into community meetings that I had any say over and walked away when I saw them filming.

So whats reality then when the cameras are around? Very little. Take the sad scene where Les (last resident in Aragon tower) leaves with all his belongings in the lift, finally stepping in with his case of clown tricks which he positions facing us so we can see the words ‘Pocket the Clown’, the scene dripping with Pathos closes with the lift doors. Perfect. Truth is the only thing in the lift that was Les’s was his suitcase. The whole thing is directed. But hey Les is an entertainer and enjoyed every minute.

Kelly and Wayne wouldn’t normally have dinner over at Canary Wharf carefully positioned next to the water so you can see Aragon in the distance. The reason that they stay after Wayne baulks at the Oyster price is that the Beeb paid for eveything and directed the scene. The word on the estate is they paid for everything including the wedding dress and a flight for her mum. Kelly is a natural though looks good and makes a great performer.

Harry the ganster? Harry the fantasist would be more correct. If Harry actually came up against the ‘Daubney Boys’ he’d end up in the river for a nine day diving trip. All scenes staged.

The publican of the John Evelyn pub? Despite being the most crap pub in the whole of Deptford it is actually twice as far from the estate as the ‘Black Horse’ – a nice, busy little pub with kareoke on Saturdays and Sky on the big screen (Millwall Pub). Or even the ‘Queen Victoria’ which is actually on the estate itself which was trading while the filming was going on (its now the Hoang Bar and is a strangely empty ‘Vietnamese Restaurant’). Fact is we don’t hear about what sort of lease he holds or how big the house in Kent is. Despite his shocking trading prognosis, guess what? A couple of years later he is still in business and his pub looks emptier than ever…go figure that one.

Leol walking up the moody alleyway (actually the upper watergate) a long way from the estate and sitting pondering his lost love? Well let’s say I thought his acting was actually very good and there may be a new career in the offing. (Mike Leigh were you watching?). Seriously though, I know Leol and would class him as ‘vulnerable’ because of his addictions and I don’t know if this is really going to help him very much. Of course the counter argument is that he has already messed up his life and so what can get worse? I haven’t had a chance to talk to him since the show began but I will endeavour to do so to see what effect its having on him.

As far I can see the only good thing that is coming out of this for the genral population of Lewishams largest estate is that the council look like they don’t really care about the estate and this much is true!!! There is a consultation on the 19th July about the Oxestalls Rd development (the site of the scrapyard) and it will be interesting to see who turns up from the council and what they have to say. Maybe we might still get something out of this yet. At least being on the tele has got to be worth more than anything the Honour Oak Park R.A.G. can manage – despite their landed WASPiness and free time for campaigning.

Even though I am a republican, on this occasion I will side her madge, who has also suffered misrepresentation like us and say that BBC producers should be ‘Sent to the Tower’ or perhaps even ‘Orf with their head of departments’!

AF

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15 Responses to “BBC sent to the Tower”

  1. Luciana Says:

    Oh! no!
    I had a lot of expectancy about this production and what I’ve seen is a bad done big brother and a good marketing of “the tower”, now the agents can sale or rent the flats much easier. Came on, Pepys Estate has been sold by the council in a terrible way under our nose and we cann’t do nothing! They want to do a big cleaning, move all the poor people that have lived here for ages to put the “new regeneration” rich people looking for a view of the river.
    And The Tower was made only to justify the power of the money. What about the social? The community? Forget.
    God can give you the car, nice house and everything else that the money can buy! Trusth me: we are in the last times

  2. Knit Nurse Says:

    Thanks for posting this, I have been watching it and wondering what the REAL story was. Although I’m close by and know the area, it’s good to hear comments from someone actually involved with these people and with the estate. I will continue to follow the series, and check back now and again, hopefully you will continue with your insights.

  3. Morgan Says:

    As an outsider I am amazed at how negative this piece and the comments are. I have been amazed at The Tower. More than anything else I think it has very clearly shown the council’s utter abandonment of what was once regarded as a stand out piece of social housing. The show has been quite clear in it’s politics, that what is going on is social cleansing (the clip showing the garffitti stating this is shown at the beginning of every episode). And at times has clearly shown the coucil’s failure to provide for those most in need. I am amazed Luciana sees it as the opposite.

    Berkley Homes employees have been shown to be incredibly naive at best. The sales team struck me as stupid women living in a post-Thatcherite dream world working for a company devoid of any concerns other than making as much money as possible.

    If it is a matter of not feeling that what is shown truly reflects the area in which you live, then I’d suggest that the director’s notion of “the real estate” and yours will differ, just as your perception will differ others.

    That it is not a bad thing to create scenes you desire as documentary maker if it increases the power of the statement you are making. At no point does the documentary seem to me to have created events, but has rather adapted events that were already happening to ensure the point is made. So what is the truth regarding Les. That the council bullied him into leaving his home with some disgusting tactics, offered him a hideously low amount and eventually got him out for 180K, and how much did they male for his flat? And this was shown. None of the stuff in the lift was his. So what, this happened. It is shameful. Les had a real dignity in the face of what was happening, and that made the councils actions all the more disgusting. What a shame his idiot solictitor advised him to accept the 180.

    And that the director quite clearly created an incredibly tight bond with some of the people he worked with. I believe he is still in close contact with many and it is this relationship that elicits such great moments of behaviour. To simply state that they are all acting in the hope of being discovered is to reduce all motives to the level of Big Brother. The social cleansing that is occuring in London should be highlighted. The behaviour of councils like Lewisham should be shown. And if this programme goes any way to ensuring it does not happen to another estate, or that people in another housing estate are included in decision making the way the people on the Pepys estate once were then it has been a good thing.

  4. Patrick Says:

    I agree with Morgan, I think the Tower is an amazing series, and very revealing about the divide between rich and poor that is again becoming such a part of London. It really takes its time so that we get to know the people. I’m sure it’s true that the presence of cameras will have influenced the way some behave but that’s true of any documentary and I don’t think just reading about the Pepys Estate would have had half the impact of watching this programme.

  5. BobFromBrockley Says:

    I more with Morgan. I think the picture they paint is too black and white: dysfunctional council tenants v disgusting posh gentrifiers, when the reality is clearly more complicated.

    At first, I thought some of the characters (e.g. Kelly and Wayne) were getting stitched up, but as time goes on, they get portrayed as more and more loveable.

    So, a cautious thumbs up – but reserving judgement to the end.

  6. Steve Says:

    I lived on the Pepys Estate, in Argosy House, for a year in 2004/2005 so took interest in this programme. I was a private tenant and so cannot empathise with the council residents. Not being from London, no matter Lewisham, i did not know the history or reputation of the Pepys when i moved there. Indeed, my year on the estate did little to substantiate the stories that people told about the estate. I remember seeing the kids playing football on the basketball court outside Eddystone, the music eminating from the hall on Sunday nights, the CCTV cameras all over the place, the pub with the massive ‘Millwall — Nobody Likes Us’ banner in the window, the lady in the post-office who never smiled, and the generally friendly nature of my neighbours.

    Although i don’t doubt its authenticity, the social ills highlighted by the programme never really stood out. I think the programme is an attempt to distinguish what councils mean by ‘regeneration’; yes it’s all very well turning Aragon into nice flats and attempting gentrification by drip down economics and (probably) commercial development, but how do the residents of the Pepys actually benefit?

    I assume that council tenants receive relocation to another estate in the city so that Lewisham Council can be absolved of a small part of their problems. But that doesn’t solve the problem that London Councils provide relatively poor accomodation and services to those who are probably most in need of help. Lewisham Council will receive the money for the sale of ‘The Tower’ [and, in time, more of the Pepys estate] but the people who have had to relocate will not see a penny of this money to aid their needs. Perhaps, instead of breaking up the Pepys, money would be better spent in community projects making the place a nicer place for everyone? It’s a poor state of affairs if you ask me.

  7. Jez Says:

    I think the series is amazing. For someone, like me who was brought up in Woolwich of which is going through alot of similar changes, it is an eye opener as to what policies councils like Lewisham and Greenwich are doing to regenerate an area. Berkley Homes are part of the regeneration all along the Thames. It’s all part of New Labour’s regeneration, not just in South London but the country over… this is happening everywhere. I have seen it in Sheffield, Hull and Leeds over the last 5 years. This film does something that government policy does not consider, and thats the affects of the real peoples lives. Pepys has needed regeneration for years and the original architects only ever thought about their wonderful designs… it was never considered what the impact would be to lump aload of people together without foresight of the social problems. A similar project happened in West London, called Trelock (I think) Tower some years ago… sold off so that the money mongals could try and put a sticky plaster on serious social problematic areas.

    I dont think the programme reflects the estate as a whole… you can’t make a documentary about someone who pops off to Asda and back again and watches TV (not saying that this is what people do but just as an example)… they maybe real people but it doesn’t make good TV. The other people who do make good TV have some interesting stories… something South Londoners always have done, in my opinion.

    I also don’t think that there has been any orchestration of the tennants in respect of what was said and did… the new tenants however, appeared to play to the cameras… most of them playing up their social class… clearly wanting to illustrate the haves and have nots. I very much got the impression that they brought an expensive prison cell where they can only see the Thames and the rest of the estate doesn’t exist. I bet none of them will venture very far.. travelling either in their cars and taxis. Shame. As the film has illustrated… they maybe poor poor in social wealth but very rich as people and people should be as individuals and not the baggage that they carry with them, be it mental, emotional or financial.

    Alot of people feel that Lewisham sold Pepys out… I would deeply agree. But from what I have seen, this is happening everywhere… the communities are being sold off. We will find out in 20 years whether it has worked for the best or not.

    I would say Anthony Wonke (Producer) has given us a balanced documentary. Pepys is happening everywhere and Pepys was chosen to show a piece of government policy that is being rolled outeverywhere. It’s a documentary about government policy and not just about the people who live there. Hopefully Pepys will benefit from this documentary as there are estates up and down the country who will not.

  8. kelly Says:

    i must agree we did feel we got stitched up a bit as over three years of footage bits that were shown were point less to us and wasn’t what we thought the program was for but regardless to that my parents paid for the dress and there own flights we dont need hand outs from the BBC canary wharf well what can i say not our first choice but my father worked very hard to pay for that dress and i am very gratefull to my parents and my husband for making my wedding day perfect it was a family pull together not a BBC put on.

  9. caroline Fox Says:

    I have been watching THE TOWER since it started and I have never seen such rubbish in all my life. I have lived on Pepys for 10 yrs and been around it for the last 25yrs and that isn’t the estate I know. Sure we have probs like every where else but for the jumped up POSHIES to say this is a dodgy place and a dodgy area was really to much to take. The family from Bath should go back to their SIX bedroom home if they want a cushy life. Most of the off estate scenes were still filmed local ie: Silwood estate I should know I lived there for 15yrs and the road of arches where leol sat was zampa rd. People of Pepys unite and tell the BBC what they think and demand to know why they have portrayed us in such a disgraceful way. Anything good that was shown was a blink and you miss it. Pepys will now be known as the worst estate in Deptford with crime happening daily and we’re all ment to be drunks druggies and full of dysfuntional families. WE ARE NOT we are just the same as everywhere.

  10. tinhanha Says:

    I’m very sorry if I didn’t explain myself in the right way that you could understand. Maybe is because I am still a poor person with a poor English. When I said that “I had a lot of expectancy about this production and what I’ve seen is a bad done big brother and a good marketing of “the tower” I mean that I don’t agree with the way that they filmed the series (maybe my English don’t let me know very well), I confess that the words “big brother” were the best ones to explain the program. Now I can try to explain myself more clearly, about the big brother, all of us have problems, also Pepys Estate have serious social problems. We have problems with our organizations, we have there several organizations like as Pepys Community Forum, 2000 Community Action Centre, Pepys Resource Centre, Riverside Youth Club, Resourceful Parents (new) … and what kind of programs to the community have we seen there?
    Just a little bit. The community (children, youth and families) don’t have a lot of things to do it, the council has took out our public spaces and made business with it’s. Also we, in ourselves, have problems everyone has. However, why did the series only had a focus in terrible things and problems that affected those people? Which is the purpose they expose personal problems of a little girl with her parents for everyone in the country see it? Also why do they expose their lives like that? Sorry about he bad big brother but what I’ve seen are bad things that happened with the poor people and such a good things happening with the riches. Other thing that we can see in the program is the big gap between the rich people and the poor people. It is all about the money, nothing about the social. (Money is something that the humanity should never has invented, the money can do that we lose the sense of HUMANITY).
    About the marketing of the tower maybe I’m wrong but is only what the money can buy, well I have money to buy my place above the river.
    At the end I had a little expectancy that the program show our estate how it is, with problems, but also with action, with life, I was expecting a kind of revolution, “action to bring about change”, because also in this estate BBC has people that have done a lot to help the community, to make better our space, to change our lives.
    The positive thing that I saw was the denunciation about the way that Lewisham Council has treated who lives here, I agree that the borough wants to do a clearance here: put the poor people away to give the space for the “new generation”.
    But once more our space is not dead space that they’ve showed us. Did you come on Deptford High Street on Saturdays? Did you come in the Coopepys on Mondays? Did you come in the Toy Library at Fridays? Do you know what community is? Do you know what about life is? Come and see it.

  11. p holton Says:

    I think the tower was very interesting but could not believe how the council left some people to live. Lez is the father of my daughter he brought her up from a young age on the Pepy’s and in Arogan tower i can remeber all the good times he had when he used to stand with her at the window showing her all the boats going by.so it was not just the flat he had a lot off happy memories there.my granddaughter was also taken back there to live and she too was shown all the amazing sites from a young age. Also the scenes that were shown were all about the bad side what about the good side i wonder if the BBC will do a programe about that? Pepy’s has always had a good community spirit this was not shown at all.

  12. Jez Says:

    In response to Kelly’s log: Kelly, we know that the BBC did not aid you or any of the participants financially or offer any reward in return. Sorry if I came across in that way. What I meant was that the exposure of the programme, though whilst you feel they stictched up the participants, has given Pepys exposure. I know alot of people from Pepys are not happy with the portrail of the estate in the programme, and I can understand why, but alot of people I know who have never been there, found that the participants amazing. I grew up on a council estate in Woolwich and have visited it for the first time in years… in a nut shell it delapitaded and I would not want to live there. I knew Pepys from the past and because of this programme, I have been a few times to visit… drank in the John Evelyn and walked round the estate. Whilst being there, I had seen no drug addicts, drunks or any misrule. I know it does happen… mainly at night but the people I know were not taken in by the programmes portrail of the residents… I think you would have to be naive to think that this was all Pepys was about. My brother learnt and developed Photography through a Pepys project and is now a professional Photographer. Alot of good comes from places like this. Just bcause your from a council estate, it does not mean you are a down and out. People on Pepys are real friendly and there is a good spirit present there inspite of its troubles. I hope the programme will give Pepys more council attention… unlike the three businesmen on the last programme who are looking to buy and make as much money as possible from social housing. I personally, dont think these people are good for the estate but again, thats just my opinion.

    The programme produced some really beautiful scenes of the participants, especially your wedding. I know the programme compared it to one of the residents in Aragon Tower, but it was very touching and I know from others I have spoken too, they agree in abundance. Congratulations on your day!

    I also know from people I have spoken to, that none of the participants have been judged by them, inspite of their dispositions (IE drink, drugs etc). Like most people, you all have interesting lives and we were afforded the privilege to have an insight. Most of us can see through what Producers try to do… fortunately.

    All the same, I intend to visit Pepys everytime I am down in London as I’m in the North. Thank you.

  13. J. Hales Says:

    I know this is a long shot but does anybody know where I can see the BBC documentary ‘The Tower, a tale of two cities’ ???
    I live in Deptford and am desperate to see it.
    Any help would be truly appreciated!!

    Thanks.

  14. freefsrurry Says:

    Great website. I can be secretive about my airports resistance Wanna joke?) Why do gorillas have big nostrils? Because they have big fingers.

  15. Deptford Del Says:

    J. Hales – i’ve just watched the first few episodes of the series on http://www.veoh.com

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