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Made in Britain (1983)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Made in Britain (1983)
Central Independent Television for ITV, tx. 10/7/1983
75 minutes, colour
DirectorAlan Clarke
ScreenplayDavid Leland
ProducerMargaret Matheson

Cast: Tim Roth (Trevor); Terry Richards (Errol); Bill Stewart (Peter Clive); Eric Richard (Harry Parker); Geoffrey Hutchings (superintendent)

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Teenage skinhead Trevor is bright and articulate. He is also racist, anti-social and an habitual offender. After his latest arrest, the authorities struggle to deal with Trevor and he delights in causing them problems.

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First screened on ITV in 1983, Made in Britain was the third collaboration between Alan Clarke and screenwriter David Leland. The play focuses on teenager Trevor, a violent, racist skinhead who refuses to cooperate with any attempts by the courts or social workers to rehabilitate him.

In many respects, Trevor is an archetypal Alan Clarke character. Like Archer in Scum, he is a bright boy who sees himself as the victim of authoritarianism and believes he can beat the system by belligerence and defiance. His forthright but confused sense of pride in his white heritage is reminiscent of Stephen's notions of Englishness in Penda's Fen and, like a precursor to Bexy in The Firm, he is a personification of the dark underbelly of 1980s Britain.

Undermining established stereotypes of skinheads as mindless thugs, Trevor is intelligent and articulate, which ultimately makes him more frustrating for those who try to help him. In a key scene, a social worker demonstrates on a blackboard the trap of crime, prison and poverty that Trevor is walking into; Trevor is smart enough to understand but too angry to care. But brief insights behind his aggressive fa├žade, reveal glimpses of a desperate individual and, obnoxious though Trevor undoubtedly is, it becomes hard not to pity him.

Formally, Made in Britain marked the start of the kinetic camera style that would dominate Clarke's later works. Always keen to bridge the gap between actors and audience and famously impatient when arranging complex tracking shots, Clarke's discovery of the Steadicam while` making Made in Britain added a fluidity to the film and to subsequent dramas like Contact, Road, Christine, Elephant, and The Firm. Made in Britain was written as a companion piece to Leland's Rhino, the story of a disenfranchised young black girl, and the two plays were first broadcast on consecutive Sundays.

Justin Hobday

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Video Clips
1. The job centre (2:50)
2. Trevor's options (4:46)
3. A night visit (4:26)
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