New TV documentary on Bloody Sunday play ‘The White Handkerchief’ on BBC One

A new documentary on The Playhouse production ‘The White Handkerchief’ will be screened on BBC One Northern Ireland at 10.35pm next Monday, March 7.

The documentary will also be available on BBC iPlayer and will be screened on BBC Four on March 13.

On the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, The Playhouse presented The White Handkerchief performed in the Guildhall.

The sold out performance recreates the events of 30 January, 1972 and tells the stories of those who were killed and injured on Bloody Sunday. And it also features a new generation of talent from Derry and beyond.

Francis Harkin as Michael Kelly in The White Handkerchief.

The new film from BBC Northern Ireland documents the play’s development from page to stage over a period of nine months. It includes the creators, local cast members and the families of the victims.

Written by Liam Campbell, who sadly passed away weeks before opening night, The White Handkerchief takes its title from an iconic image of Father Edward Daly waving a blood-soaked handkerchief as he led a group of people trying to bring a fatally injured Jackie Duddy to safety.

Performed for a live audience at the Guildhall – the original destination for the civil rights march 50 years ago – the play was also streamed to audiences around the world.

This film, on BBC One Northern Ireland on Monday 7 March at 10.35pm, follows Kieran Griffiths – the play’s producer and director - as he takes an idea that he had two years ago to the final stage production. It goes behind-the-scenes at the auditions and shows the process of combining music, dance and speech and historical research into the final stage production. The film also captures the critical first performances in front of the families of the Bloody Sunday victims.

Speaking about the production Kieran Griffiths said: “It’s the most frightened I’ve ever been in my life in the making of something because I consider it the most important thing I’ve ever had to make.

“The interesting thing about this project is it’s for the people of Derry. It’s for Liam’s family [Liam Campbell – writer] as well and you’ve got Derry people watching Derry people tell their own story. A close friend of mine, Damien Gorman, who is a poet, once said to me, ‘Kieran, grief is love that has nowhere to go’, and I would hope that maybe the melodies, the music, the dialogue, the experience might help take that grief and, for one evening anyway, put it somewhere.”

The film also features interviews with Kay Duddy, sister of Jackie Duddy, Julieann Campbell, niece of Jackie Duddy and John McKinney, brother of William McKinney as well as the writer, Liam Campbell and the composer, Brian O’Doherty.

The White Handkerchief is an Open Reel Production for BBC Northern Ireland. It will be broadcast on BBC One Northern Ireland on Monday 7 March at 10.35pm and on 13 March at 9pm on BBC Four.

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