The Negro next Door (1965)

Film details

  • Featuring

    Desmond Wilcox Bill Morton

  • Country

    United Kingdom

  • Year

    1965

  • Genre

    Current affairs

  • Type

    Television

  • Category

    Non Fiction

Synopsis

DOCUMENTARY. The reactions of people in Roseville Terrace, Leeds to their black neighbours.

THIS WEEK logo and signature tune over faces of a black boy and girl standing on their doorstep and in a sitting room; a black boy with his white friends (00.27). A row of terraced houses. Voice-over (VO) states that this is Roseville Terrace, Leeds. The average weekly rent for these houses is 30 shillings a week. The houses are close together, walls are thin and there is an acknowledgment of the importance of neighbours. In the past five years 15 of the 53 houses have `coloured people' in them. 10 years ago there were hardly any coloured people in Leeds; there are now 9,000. The average income of the inhabitants of the street is £20 per week but there is no `average' attitude to their neighbours. [As the VO gives the information the camera pans along the street]. (1.42). VO introduces Margaret Grogan and Pat Rivington. Margaret Grogan's husband, Eddie, is a bricklayer. She has black neighbours on both sides. Pat Rivington has a husband and two sons. Wilcox interviews Pat Rivington about her feelings towards her black neighbours. She says she didn't mind at first but the numbers are growing as their families increase. She says she `couldn't care less about them' if they behaved in an orderly manner but they are dirty. They don't clean their houses; windows have remained unwashed for three years. Their dirtiness attracts vermin (3.31). Asked if she gets on with her white neighbours she says `yes'. She speaks about the ease of getting to know new white neighbours. Black people, she claims, think you're `barmy' if you say `hello' and are standoffish. She admits she makes little attempt to make friends with them. She laughingly suggests that she doesn;'t want to call in on them because the number of men frighten her; they may try to pick her up and carry her off to the white slave trade. Again she says that it is their behaviour, not their colour, to which she objects. She worries that one of her children may want to marry a black person. [This interview is intercut with shots of the street where a black and a white child play] (7.16). Margaret Grogan is interviewed by Wilcox. She says she was depressed and upset when black people moved in but cannot say why. She says they took lodgers who were noisy and unruly. The black people don't keep their children clean. They can't cope. She feels she was liberal towards black people until they moved into her street. She is ashamed to tell her friends that she has black neighbours. Their behaviour is `primitive' - they cut each other's hair in the back yard on Sundays and do their washing in tubs outside. Wilcox asks what is `so terribly wrong' about cutting hair outside in the yard. She says she can't explain why - it's just `peculiar'. Her family has arguments with the black neighbours about their noisy dog which keeps the baby awake - on one occasion a fist fight between the two men resulted. She admits that she feels guilt about her prejudices, and also admits that she makes little effort to like her neighbours. She feels that they are dirty. Her mother worries about her living next to black people and would move her away if she could. Her mother reads reports in the papers suggesting that black people will wield knives at the first signs of an argument. She wouldn't let her daughter, Sharon, play with black children - she doesn't want her child to `get used' to black people. There is a local school which has 50% black children but she will not let her child go there (12.25). White children in street carrying a ladder, women wearing headscarves talking, children playing with dogs in street. VO says that the two women interviewed are confused and uncertain and their fears and myths are mixed up with their desire to be good northern neighbours. The focus for their uneasiness is found in specific complaints - noise, dirt etc (12.44). VO introduces Mrs Patinelli (?) and her 14 year-old son, Arthur. Her husband is a factory storeman. They have lived in Roseville Terrace for 3 years. Mrs Patinelli is interviewed in her sitting room. She has a medical problem affecting her throat and speech. She says she wants to stay in Leeds and feels that her white neighbours behave well. Wilcox outlines the complaints made against her by Mrs Grogan and Mrs Rivington - the dog, untidiness. She makes no reply and looks sad and resigned. She says that neighbours have stopped visiting her and didn't come when she was ill. She and her son say that they do not go in the back yard on Sundays. Arthur indicates how tidy the house is. Wilcox pats their small, friendly dog. Arthur explains that the dog whimpers when it wants to be let in - he claims once the neighbour kicked it. Wilcox asks Mrs Patinelli if she thinks that they will eventually make friends with the neighbours who don't like them - she looks bewildered and doesn't understand why people complain about her. Wilcox says that they don't like her because she is coloured. She smiles and shakes her head. Wilcox says that white people find her behaviour and the way she lives difficult to accept. She asks `why' and doesn't understand their resentment (18.21). Pat Rivington walking down the street with her young children. VO explains that minutes after Mrs Patinelli had been interviewed the THIS WEEK team invited Mrs Rivington and Mrs Grogan to Mrs Patinelli's house (18.35). Mrs Patinelli, Arthur, Mrs Rivington, Mrs Grogan and the dog in the sitting room. Wilcox says that he finds it hard to believe that such a small friendly dog could make so much noise. They discuss the dog and the noise it makes and the fight which ensued over it. Wilcox notes that the house is clean and tidy; Mrs Grogan says that the house was probably tidied the night before as they knew they would be filmed. They talk about the noise and disruption caused during the time Mrs Patinelli took lodgers - they admit the house is in better order now. Wilcox asks why they don't say `good morning' to each other. Mrs Grogan and Mrs Rivington say they don't know, then say that they sometimes do. Mrs Grogan says that she never said black people were `standoffish' but feels that they don't want to make friends. Arthur says there are good and bad, unfriendly and friendly people whatever their colour. Mrs Rivington feels that black people might think that white people are being patronising if they appear too friendly (22.27). [Repeat of footage and sound from the discussion on the previous lodgers to 22.27]. Wilcox in Mrs Rivington's kitchen with Mrs Rivington and Mrs Grogan discussing the encounter with Mrs Patinelli. Wilcox challenges Mrs Grogan's comment that the house was tidied just for the camera. Mrs Rivington says Mrs Patinelli `hasn't the first idea about curtains' [presumably she thought that they were dirty]. Mrs Rivington says she feels angry. Wilcox asks her `why'; she replies that she feels Wilcox twists her words. She agrees with Mrs Grogan that the house is in better order now that the lodgers have gone but wishes that Wilcox could have seen the place then. Mrs Rivington feels guilty that she has been so uncharitable to a sick woman who can't speak for herself, it isn't typical of her personality, she would have helped if she had known. Both women accuse Wilcox of having no conception of what life is like living next to black neighbours. Mrs Rivington ask Wilcox whether he would want his daughter to marry a black man. Mrs Grogan says she asked Wilcox the same question the other day but he wouldn't commit himself. Wilcox doesn't reply (26.33). Black women outside the corner shop on the street. Wilcox, in VO, sums up `those deep, dark things that effect how we live with the negro next door' (26.55). THIS WEEK logo over shot of street (27.21).

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