An Instant in Time

28th June 2024 Progressive Players News
An Instant in Time Share This Entry:

We take a look at the story behind the image on our poster for our July production.

2024 is the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the UK Miners’ Strike, a major industrial action by the National Union of Mineworkers in protest against the closure of coal mines deemed “uneconomic” by the government. Leading the strike was charismatic union leader Arthur Scargill, whose passionate campaigning brought him into direct and bitter confrontation with the Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Political journalist Andrew Marr, in his book A History of Modern Britain (2007) suggests that “Many found Scargill inspiring. Many others found him frankly scary”.

The Miners’ Strike began on 6 March 1984 and ended in defeat on 3 March 1985, allowing the closure of most of Britain’s collieries. Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock supported Scargill, though Kinnock, along with many other politicians, believed that calling the strike in the spring instead of winter had been a big mistake.

A significant period in 20th century British history, the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike has served numerous times as the backdrop to stories on stage and screen. Among the most well-known films are Brassed Off (1996), the stage version of which was presented by the Progressive Players in 2012, and Billy Elliot (2000), which was later adapted into a highly successful musical. An episode of the 1996 BBC TV drama serial Our Friends in the North, titled 1984, depicted the strike from the viewpoints of both the miners and the police.

In 2005 Fiona Evans wrote We Love You Arthur, which received its first performance at that year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And now, 40 years after the events which inspired it, We Love You Arthur is the Progressive Players’ production for July 2024.

Our poster for the show features a closeup photograph of Arthur Scargill, which is actually part of a larger photograph. It was taken by Martin Herron, an amateur photographer from Durham who also happens to be a friend of the playwright Fiona Evans. In July 1984 Arthur Scargill attended the Durham Miners’ Gala, accompanied by Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock. As Scargill moved towards the microphone to deliver his speech, Martin found himself in an ideal spot to capture the historic image below.

Arthur Scargill and Neil Kinnock at the Durham Miners' gala in 1984.

The Progressive Players are grateful to Martin Herron for
granting full permission to use his photograph for
our production of We Love You Arthur.

Book online to see the show at: We Love You Arthur at Little Theatre Gateshead event tickets from TicketSource
Or call Box Office on 01914781499 (answerphone).