Marguerite Russell features in Channel 4 documentary 'Defiance: Fighting the Far Right'

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Defiance: Fighting the Far Right, the landmark Channel 4 documentary series will examine the political and social struggles faced by Britain’s Asian community between 1976 and 1981.

The series will cover the Bradford 12's extraordinary trial. Marguerite Russell represented the Bradford 12 in their case against racist policing in 1981. Marguerite is a founding member of Garden Court Chambers.

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Across three episodes, Defiance is set to examine how Britain’s Asian community was targeted with a campaign of violence and murder between 1976 and 1981, as National Front activity became increasingly prominent.

The series investigates seminal events ranging from the Southall protests, the death of Blair Peach, the Battle for Brick Lane and the extraordinary story of the Bradford 12 - events which were often overlooked by the press, the police and the government. Through a cache of archive footage and compelling new testimony from key figures on the front line at the time, the ground-breaking documentary series will show what happened when the British Asian community decided to fight back.   

These timely films will lift the lid on a period in recent British history, in which the violence, injustice – as well as the extraordinary courage of those who confronted it – resonates through the decades.

The series will be broadcast on 8th April at 9pm on Channel 4 in the UK, with episodes two and three scheduled to follow at the same time on 9th April and 10th April.

Whitechapel Gallery are hosting an exclusive free screening of Defiance: Fighting the Far Right on Friday 5th April, click here to find out more. These free afternoon screenings will be followed by a day of discussions on Saturday 6 April exploring issues, stories, artistic responses and contemporary resonances related to the series, click here to book to attend these discussions

BAFTA previously held a private screening for members on Friday 22 March, click here for more details.

Defiance was commissioned by Shaminder Nahal, Channel 4 Head of Specialist Factual. The 3x60’ films were directed by Satiyesh Manoharajah and the series is produced by Anoop Pandhal.

The series is executive produced by James Rogan, Nancy Bornat and Soleta Rogan for Rogan Productions, Riz Ahmed and Allie Moore for Left Handed Films and Deep Sehgal for GroupM Motion Entertainment.

Head of Specialist Factual for Channel 4, Shaminder Nahal, said: “I couldn’t be more excited to have been able to commission this series, which feels like it will be the first of its kind. [I]t is incredibly powerful to be able to tell the stories of everyday British Asians fighting to make their way in this country and to be heard. I’m hoping that all together we will create something that feels like a bolt of energy, making us stop and think, and change perceptions.”   

Executive Producer for Rogan Productions James Rogan said: “A comprehensive telling of the extraordinary experiences of a generation of Asian refugees and migrants who came to Britain and faced unprecedented wave of racial violence, stood their ground and turned the tide, is long overdue. In the hands of a brilliant creative team, this will be a landmark documentary packed with jaw-dropping stories and thrilling tales of resistance, breaking new ground on stories long overlooked forgotten.”

Riz Ahmed and Allie Moore of Left Handed Films said: “The British Asian civil rights movement is a forgotten piece of history. The Southall Protests, the death of Blair Peach, and the story of the Bradford 12 all continue to shape Britain. These are stories of bravery in the face of violence, and a refusal to let prejudice go unchallenged - they could not be more timely. We’re excited to be working with an incredible team to grip audiences and stretch our idea of who the United Kingdom is as a nation."

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