Channel 4 has commissioned a “major” three-part documentary series on National Front attacks on British Asians in the 70s from Rogan Productions, Left Handed Films and GroupM Motion Entertainment.

Rogan Productions (Uprising, Freddie Mercury: The Final Act), Riz Ahmed’s Left Handed Films (The Long Goodbye, Flee) and GroupM Motion Entertainment are working in collaboration for the 3×60’ documentary series ‘Defiance’ (wt).

‘Defiance’ will 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 new testimony from key figures on the front line at the time, the documentary series will show what happened when the British Asian community decided to fight back.

Defiance was commissioned by Shaminder Nahal, Channel 4 Head of Specialist Factual.

The 3×60’ films will be Series Directed by Satiyesh Manoharajah, Series Produced by Anoop Pandhal and directed and produced by Rajesh Thind

The series will be 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. At a moment when we have a British Asian Prime Minister, and an Asian First Minister in Scotland, it 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. It’s a huge privilege to be working with Rogan Productions, Riz Ahmed and Left Handed Films, and the GroupM Motion Entertainment on this uniquely Channel 4 project – 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 Riots, 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.”

Executive Producer for GroupM Motion Entertainment Deep Sehgal said: “Defiance tells an incredibly important, moving and powerful story – and the film-makers at Rogan have done this with great integrity. GroupM Motion Entertainment are very proud to have supported them in partnership with Channel 4 and it’s a perfect example of how our Diverse Indies Fund can help bring story-telling of the highest calibre to the screen.”

Jon Creamer

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