Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Faith (2005)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Faith (2005)
BBC1, tx. 28/2/2005
100 min, colour
DirectorDavid Thacker
ProducersAntonia Bird
 Alison Jackson
ScriptWilliam Ivory

Cast: Christine Tremarco (Michelle); Jamie Draven (Gary); Adrian Bower (Paul); Maxine Peake (Linda); Jason Flemyng (Martin); Clive Russell (Gordon)

Show full cast and credits

A close-knit family in a northern mining community are torn apart by the strike when friends and family find themselves on opposing sides.

Show full synopsis

Dramatising the impact of the 1984-85 miners strike, Faith charts the troubled relationship between couples Michelle and Gary (a miner) and her sister Linda and Paul (a policeman) in the fictional mining town Newby. Producer Antonia Bird, who worked in miners' support groups during the strike, sought a script from acclaimed writer William Ivory, whose acting credits included Bird's Care (BBC, tx. 8/10/2000) and Les Blair's pit-closure drama The Merrihill Millionaires (BBC, tx. 29/9/1993).

Combining fiction and historical accuracy required "a different discipline" for Ivory, who started research without a preconceived position - during the strike, Ivory was a bin man in less 'solid' Nottinghamshire - but concluded that the coal industry suffered a "premeditated political attack" by Margaret Thatcher to break unions. Faith displays controversial tactics including MI5 'counter-subversion' and BBC news' misleading editing of 'Battle of Orgreave' footage (both admitted since the strike), with characters in a civil war atmosphere illustrating Thatcher's Falklands-referencing condemnation of miners as the 'enemy within'.

However, Ivory's focus is on people. Michelle and Paul are energised by new roles with campaigners and Metropolitan Police respectively. One of Michelle's speeches echoes Ivory's sense that Bird was not motivated by "a sense of loss, but of victory" observed in communities and among women whose campaigning 'redefined' their social roles. The extreme situation results in intensified feeling (Ivory "recording the 'more'"), leading to articulacy in Michelle's speeches and the sisters' desire not to accept the life their mother settled for.

The personal becomes political if the system wants miners to 'self-destruct'. Emotions are expressed through mining imagery: Gary feels a "great empty shaft of a hole" within - conveyed visually by a previous doorframe shot trapping him in a narrow shaft of light - which makes his strike support an "act of faith" unlike Michelle's 'belief'. In the strike as in love, Gary's affair with Linda shows a mutual need to replace doubt with feeling.

Director David Tucker enhances the script with drama-documentary techniques, from hectic and ultimately tragic picket scenes to the juxtaposition of archive footage: 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' potently accompanies images of miners receiving donations, intercut (on the lyric "thank God it's them instead of you") with Thatcher addressing the rich. Consequently, a Conservative media spokesman criticised Faith as "wholly partial and one-sided" and the BBC for left-wing bias. In its defence, Ivory cited its critique of miners' leaders and sympathy for a police character.

David Rolinson

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Miners' Film, The (1975)
Leeds - United! (1974)
Which Side Are You On? (1984)
Bird, Antonia (1959-2013)
Ivory, William (1964-)
TV Drama in the 2000s