Pride Of Britain: A Windrush Special
Little Trains & Big Names
Telly loves a surprise. Once upon a time, that meant Keith Chegwin bouncing onto a grannie’s door- step with a giant cheque, or Cilla Black flying a long-lost cousin home from Australia for a family reunion.
Pride of Britain: A Windrush Special (ITV1) did rather better than that. Responding to a smart rat-a-tat-tat at his door, 97-year-old RAF veteran Alford Gardner was nonplussed to find the Prince of Wales standing there.
‘Alford, good morning,’ William hailed him. ‘Special delivery.’
This royal prank was not without risks. Alford is 97, one of only two surviving passengers from the voyage of the Windrush in 1948 bringing Caribbean workers to Britain. It would have been awkward if the shock of opening the front door to the future king had caused him to keel over.
But the father-of-nine is made of robust stuff. Treating the visit in the spirit it was intended, as a joyful homage both to him and to all Britain’s West Indian community, he was soon chatting merrily to William about his memories.
Responding to a smart rat-a-tat-tat at his door, 97-year-old RAF veteran Alford Gardner was nonplussed to find the Prince of Wales standing there
Asked what sailing on the Windrush had been like, he said, ‘I spent most of the time gambling. Those were the years! My brother came with me, we had a very good time.’
The prince proved an adept interviewer. He has Ben Fogle’s accent and Dermot O’Leary’s amiable manner. Good Morning Britain could do worse than try him out alongside Susanna Reid.
He was relishing the role, as he ushered Alford off to Headingley cricket ground, where dozens of the old boy’s friends, family and admirers were waiting to cheer him to the rafters.
The other celebrity surprises in this hour were of varying quality. Veteran midwife Vernesta Cyril, who also set up the South East Wales Race Equality Council in the 1970s, was thrilled to be tapped on the shoulder by Sir Trevor McDonald.
In Bristol, Guy Reid-Bailey — figurehead for the city’s bus boycotts in the 1960s — met comedian Judi Love, who was overwhelmed by emotion and tearfully monopolised the camera. In Birmingham, 65-year-old Joseph Mowlah-Baksh, denied a passport for decades by the ‘Windrush Scandal’, was visited by a Spice Girl — Scary Spice, Mel B.
Whether, given a choice, he might have asked for Posh or Ginger, we weren’t told.
Though this show covered much of the same ground as a BBC2 documentary, Windrush: Portraits Of A Generation, back in June, it laid less emphasis on allegations of historic racism. The problems were covered, but not to the exclusion of all else.
This was more of a celebration, a tone set by Alesha Dixon when she met Sir Coxsone, the pioneer of reggae sound system parties in London. ‘What sound systems did, the government of this country could not do,’ he said. ‘We broke down the racial barriers. We were the first music to make black and white people start to socialise and to dance in the same dancehall.’
Jools Holland and Pete Waterman were bonded by music and their love of model railways, in Little Trains & Big Names (More4).
Jools Holland and Pete Waterman were bonded by music and their love of model railways, in Little Trains & Big Names
The layout in Jools’s attic, which spans a dozen scenes and eras in exquisite detail, sent Pete into raptures. He was so enamoured with the diorama, which famously features in the opening sequence of Jools’s music showcase Later . . . on BBC2, that he failed to dig into many of its secrets.
The whole Holland autobiography and psychology appear to be encoded in this vast model. Every detail has a story to tell, but it would take a more incisive interviewer than Pete to discover them all.
It became frustrating: I kept muttering, ‘Why don’t you ask him about that bit?’