Alan Clarke’s original version of Scum, a brutal and bloody look at the failings of the British borstal system, was originally produced for the BBC as part of the Play For Today series in the mid-70s. It was so shocking that the BBC banned it for over fifteen years. Undeterred, Clarke and writer Roy Minton decided to make it as a theatrical film instead, and the result prompted moral campaigner Mary Whitehouse to take Channel 4 to court when they eventually broadcast it in 1983.
It’s rare that something made decades ago still has the power to shock, but Scum most certainly does. Whilst a young offender named Carlin (Ray Winstone) kicks, punches and stabs his way to becoming the ‘daddy’ of a terrifying borstal full of similarly damaged young men, a more intellectual denizen named Archer (Mick Ford) uses his wits to beat the system. Clarke and Minto’s film features gang rape, racism, suicide and unflinching violence, but never gratuitously – it’s all in service of showing just how broken the young offenders’ system was in the 1970s.
We’re thrilled to welcome actor Mick Ford along for this screening of Scum to talk about his work on the film, his relationship with Alan Clarke and the legacy of the film since it first burst onto screens and helped abolish the broken borstal system.
Warning! Contains strong language, sexual assault, bloody violence and the power to help dismantle the entire borstal system.
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