Stories From Notting Hill

Episodes

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1Origins20110822

The writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah has regularly attended the Notting Hill Carnival since the 1970s. This year, before he gets ready to dance in the streets of West London, he sets out to explore the history of the festival and to meet some of the key people who make the event happen.

The Notting Hill Carnival is the biggest multicultural festival in Europe. It's generally accepted that the event started somewhere between 1959 and 1965 as a community-strengthening celebration of Caribbean culture. But for decades the carnival community has been divided over precisely when the festival started and who should be credited with laying its foundations. For some people the first Carnival was organised by black American Civil Rights campaigner Claudia Jones in January 1959, as an indoor event. Eyewitnesses describe evenings of calypso, steelband and costume competitions, staged as a reaction to the race riots that had gripped Notting Hill.

Other witnesses are certain that the festival started much later, in August 1965, by the white community worker Rhaune Laslett who created a multicultural festival aimed at bringing together the poor communities living in Notting Hill. Experts and surviving witnesses take Kwame through their private archives to shed light on this early period.

Presenter Kwame Kwei-Armah is famous for his role as a paramedic in the BBC drama, Casualty. He is also an award-winning playwright and has recently been appointed Artistic Director of Baltimore's state theatre, Center Stage.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise Production for BBC Radio 4.

. Writer Kwame Kwei-Armah sets out to uncover the roots of the Notting Hill Carnival.

01Origins20110822

The writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah has regularly attended the Notting Hill Carnival since the 1970s.

This year, before he gets ready to dance in the streets of West London, he sets out to explore the history of the festival and to meet some of the key people who make the event happen.

The Notting Hill Carnival is the biggest multicultural festival in Europe.

It's generally accepted that the event started somewhere between 1959 and 1965 as a community-strengthening celebration of Caribbean culture.

But for decades the carnival community has been divided over precisely when the festival started and who should be credited with laying its foundations.

For some people the first Carnival was organised by black American Civil Rights campaigner Claudia Jones in January 1959, as an indoor event.

Eyewitnesses describe evenings of calypso, steelband and costume competitions, staged as a reaction to the race riots that had gripped Notting Hill.

Other witnesses are certain that the festival started much later, in August 1965, by the white community worker Rhaune Laslett who created a multicultural festival aimed at bringing together the poor communities living in Notting Hill.

Experts and surviving witnesses take Kwame through their private archives to shed light on this early period.

Presenter Kwame Kwei-Armah is famous for his role as a paramedic in the BBC drama, Casualty.

He is also an award-winning playwright and has recently been appointed Artistic Director of Baltimore's state theatre, Center Stage.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise Production for BBC Radio 4.

Writer Kwame Kwei-Armah sets out to uncover the roots of the Notting Hill Carnival.

01Origins20110822

The writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah has regularly attended the Notting Hill Carnival since the 1970s.

This year, before he gets ready to dance in the streets of West London, he sets out to explore the history of the festival and to meet some of the key people who make the event happen.

The Notting Hill Carnival is the biggest multicultural festival in Europe.

It's generally accepted that the event started somewhere between 1959 and 1965 as a community-strengthening celebration of Caribbean culture.

But for decades the carnival community has been divided over precisely when the festival started and who should be credited with laying its foundations.

For some people the first Carnival was organised by black American Civil Rights campaigner Claudia Jones in January 1959, as an indoor event.

Eyewitnesses describe evenings of calypso, steelband and costume competitions, staged as a reaction to the race riots that had gripped Notting Hill.

Other witnesses are certain that the festival started much later, in August 1965, by the white community worker Rhaune Laslett who created a multicultural festival aimed at bringing together the poor communities living in Notting Hill.

Experts and surviving witnesses take Kwame through their private archives to shed light on this early period.

Presenter Kwame Kwei-Armah is famous for his role as a paramedic in the BBC drama, Casualty.

He is also an award-winning playwright and has recently been appointed Artistic Director of Baltimore's state theatre, Center Stage.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise Production for BBC Radio 4.

Writer Kwame Kwei-Armah sets out to uncover the roots of the Notting Hill Carnival.

05 LASTLegacy20110826

Writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah goes to the Notting Hill Carnival to meet some of the multitude who create the event and discovers most are volunteers, passionate about preserving the heritage of carnival culture.

Among them are several veterans who were involved in the first indoor carnival and the first street festival and who are still at the heart of the carnival community today.

Young and old, they are all adjusting to a new era of regulations and negotiations with powerful stakeholders.

Some old conflicts have been resolved but new pressures are appearing elsewhere in the carnival that demand a different way of working.

Kwame discovers that the Notting Hill Carnival is an event with a history of transforming itself and today it's doing so by diversifying and building new partnerships.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.

Kwame Kwei-Armah looks at the challenges facing the Notting Hill Carnival today.

05 LASTLegacy20110826

Writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah goes to the Notting Hill Carnival to meet some of the multitude who create the event and discovers most are volunteers, passionate about preserving the heritage of carnival culture.

Among them are several veterans who were involved in the first indoor carnival and the first street festival and who are still at the heart of the carnival community today.

Young and old, they are all adjusting to a new era of regulations and negotiations with powerful stakeholders.

Some old conflicts have been resolved but new pressures are appearing elsewhere in the carnival that demand a different way of working.

Kwame discovers that the Notting Hill Carnival is an event with a history of transforming itself and today it's doing so by diversifying and building new partnerships.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.

Kwame Kwei-Armah looks at the challenges facing the Notting Hill Carnival today.

2Innovation20110823

The writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah discovers how today's carnival emerged from the wasteland created by the building of a new flyover. For years the Notting Hill Carnival was a festival organised for, and by, the local community. But the construction of the M40 Westway in North Kensington destroyed homes and caused huge disruption that tore into the community spirit. As part of the Westway regeneration project, the Notting Hill Carnival was given encouragement to create something spectacular out of the rubble.

From August Bank Holiday 1973 the Notting Hill Carnival was transformed under its new director Leslie Palmer to include many of the features which are now familiar to us. It was the first year of a carnival route, stalls, full costume bands and several steelbands. It was also the era that saw the introduction of sound systems playing Jamaican reggae. For the first time Carnival reached out beyond the Trinidadian expatriate community and began to accommodate a diverse youth culture from across London.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise Production for BBC Radio 4.

. Kwame Kwei-Armah discovers how a motorway gave the Notting Hill Carnival a new direction.

02Innovation20110823

The writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah discovers how today's carnival emerged from the wasteland created by the building of a new flyover.

For years the Notting Hill Carnival was a festival organised for, and by, the local community.

But the construction of the M40 Westway in North Kensington destroyed homes and caused huge disruption that tore into the community spirit.

As part of the Westway regeneration project, the Notting Hill Carnival was given encouragement to create something spectacular out of the rubble.

From August Bank Holiday 1973 the Notting Hill Carnival was transformed under its new director Leslie Palmer to include many of the features which are now familiar to us.

It was the first year of a carnival route, stalls, full costume bands and several steelbands.

It was also the era that saw the introduction of sound systems playing Jamaican reggae.

For the first time Carnival reached out beyond the Trinidadian expatriate community and began to accommodate a diverse youth culture from across London.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise Production for BBC Radio 4.

Kwame Kwei-Armah discovers how a motorway gave the Notting Hill Carnival a new direction.

02Innovation20110823

The writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah discovers how today's carnival emerged from the wasteland created by the building of a new flyover.

For years the Notting Hill Carnival was a festival organised for, and by, the local community.

But the construction of the M40 Westway in North Kensington destroyed homes and caused huge disruption that tore into the community spirit.

As part of the Westway regeneration project, the Notting Hill Carnival was given encouragement to create something spectacular out of the rubble.

From August Bank Holiday 1973 the Notting Hill Carnival was transformed under its new director Leslie Palmer to include many of the features which are now familiar to us.

It was the first year of a carnival route, stalls, full costume bands and several steelbands.

It was also the era that saw the introduction of sound systems playing Jamaican reggae.

For the first time Carnival reached out beyond the Trinidadian expatriate community and began to accommodate a diverse youth culture from across London.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise Production for BBC Radio 4.

Kwame Kwei-Armah discovers how a motorway gave the Notting Hill Carnival a new direction.

3Carnival Clash20110824

The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the world's biggest carnivals, a showcase for multicultural celebrations. But the event often makes the news for all the wrong reasons. Kwame goes behind the headlines to explore the complex relationship between the Notting Hill Carnival community and the Metropolitan Police.

From 1973 the Notting Hill Carnival was attracting crowds of a scale rarely seen on the streets of Europe and by 1975 organised gangs of pickpockets were working those crowds. In reaction to such burgeoning criminality, thousands of police officers were placed on duty in the carnival the following year. Large scale policing has characterized the event ever since. There was a major riot in 1976 and there have been occasional clashes since but it's clear that the police are now as much a part of the event as the costume procession.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.

. Kwame Kwei-Armah explores the complex relationship between the carnival and the police.

03Carnival Clash20110824

The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the world's biggest carnivals, a showcase for multicultural celebrations.

But the event often makes the news for all the wrong reasons.

Kwame goes behind the headlines to explore the complex relationship between the Notting Hill Carnival community and the Metropolitan Police.

From 1973 the Notting Hill Carnival was attracting crowds of a scale rarely seen on the streets of Europe and by 1975 organised gangs of pickpockets were working those crowds.

In reaction to such burgeoning criminality, thousands of police officers were placed on duty in the carnival the following year.

Large scale policing has characterized the event ever since.

There was a major riot in 1976 and there have been occasional clashes since but it's clear that the police are now as much a part of the event as the costume procession.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.

Kwame Kwei-Armah explores the complex relationship between the carnival and the police.

03Carnival Clash20110824

The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the world's biggest carnivals, a showcase for multicultural celebrations.

But the event often makes the news for all the wrong reasons.

Kwame goes behind the headlines to explore the complex relationship between the Notting Hill Carnival community and the Metropolitan Police.

From 1973 the Notting Hill Carnival was attracting crowds of a scale rarely seen on the streets of Europe and by 1975 organised gangs of pickpockets were working those crowds.

In reaction to such burgeoning criminality, thousands of police officers were placed on duty in the carnival the following year.

Large scale policing has characterized the event ever since.

There was a major riot in 1976 and there have been occasional clashes since but it's clear that the police are now as much a part of the event as the costume procession.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.

Kwame Kwei-Armah explores the complex relationship between the carnival and the police.

4Enterprise20110825

Writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah discovers how the Notting Hill Carnival was transformed from a British urban arts festival into a global phenomenon during the 1980s and 1990s - but at great personal cost to those at the heart of the organization of the event.

This was the era when the carnival-goers increased year-on-year, until numbers reached two million in 1999. The costumes and the bands also became bigger every year. Big name sponsors were persuaded to invest and the carnival looked well-positioned to becoming a fully commercial enterprise. However, although crime at the Carnival was generally low, in 1987 a man was fatally wounded. By 2000, four deaths had been linked to the event and the carnival organisation came under intense scrutiny.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.

. Kwame Kwei-Armah examines Carnival as it attempted to become a more commercial enterprise.

04Enterprise20110825

Writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah discovers how the Notting Hill Carnival was transformed from a British urban arts festival into a global phenomenon during the 1980s and 1990s - but at great personal cost to those at the heart of the organization of the event.

This was the era when the carnival-goers increased year-on-year, until numbers reached two million in 1999.

The costumes and the bands also became bigger every year.

Big name sponsors were persuaded to invest and the carnival looked well-positioned to becoming a fully commercial enterprise.

However, although crime at the Carnival was generally low, in 1987 a man was fatally wounded.

By 2000, four deaths had been linked to the event and the carnival organisation came under intense scrutiny.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.

Kwame Kwei-Armah examines Carnival as it attempted to become a more commercial enterprise.

04Enterprise20110825

Writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah discovers how the Notting Hill Carnival was transformed from a British urban arts festival into a global phenomenon during the 1980s and 1990s - but at great personal cost to those at the heart of the organization of the event.

This was the era when the carnival-goers increased year-on-year, until numbers reached two million in 1999.

The costumes and the bands also became bigger every year.

Big name sponsors were persuaded to invest and the carnival looked well-positioned to becoming a fully commercial enterprise.

However, although crime at the Carnival was generally low, in 1987 a man was fatally wounded.

By 2000, four deaths had been linked to the event and the carnival organisation came under intense scrutiny.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.

Kwame Kwei-Armah examines Carnival as it attempted to become a more commercial enterprise.

5 LASTLegacy20110826

Writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah goes to the Notting Hill Carnival to meet some of the multitude who create the event and discovers most are volunteers, passionate about preserving the heritage of carnival culture.

Among them are several veterans who were involved in the first indoor carnival and the first street festival and who are still at the heart of the carnival community today. Young and old, they are all adjusting to a new era of regulations and negotiations with powerful stakeholders.

Some old conflicts have been resolved but new pressures are appearing elsewhere in the carnival that demand a different way of working. Kwame discovers that the Notting Hill Carnival is an event with a history of transforming itself and today it's doing so by diversifying and building new partnerships.

Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon

A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.

. Kwame Kwei-Armah looks at the challenges facing the Notting Hill Carnival today.