Letter: Researcher needs your help to unearth BBC Radio Leeds immigration series The Black Rose

I am researching the coverage of the immigration issue on BBC local radio in the 1960s and 1970s for a future book and am seeking the help of your readers.

By Letters to the editor
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 9:14 am
Updated Thursday, 28th July 2022, 9:25 am

I wonder if anyone can help in tracking down information about a ground-breaking series of programmes called The Black Rose broadcast on BBC Radio Leeds in 1968. This six-part series set out to portray the positive aspects of immigration from the Commonwealth to Yorkshire and was a rebuttal of the anti-immigration speeches of Enoch Powell. The Black Rose was presented by local MP Merlyn Rees and produced by Mike McGowan with research about immigration to Yorkshire provided by Eric Butterworth, who was then a lecturer in Community Studies at the University of York.

The programme was praised in Parliament but received criticism from within the BBC. Phil Sidey, the Manager of BBC Radio Leeds at the time said … ‘We might well have been the first British radio station to take a political stance ... the producer Mike McGowan was interviewed on national radio and was asked: “Do you think it is right to use BBC airtime to tackle a political issue of this sort?” He gave a carefully thought-out and comprehensive answer: “Yes”.’

I am looking for any memories or information about the programme that readers may have, but of course the absolute gold would be to unearth a recording of any of the programmes which have sadly not survived in the BBC archives. I can be contacted by email at the University of Leicester at [email protected] or on the telephone on 07549 866104. Any help you could give in putting a short appeal in the Yorkshire Post would be greatly appreciated.

Pictured after the opening are: L-R Sir Michael, Mr. William Greaves, Regional TV manager and Dr. Patrick Nutgens, Chairman, BBC North Advisory Council, with Mr. Howard Brookbank, senior engineer (front) showing the group the main control consul in the control room. Photo: Peter Thacker

Dr. Liam McCarthy,

Honorary Fellow,

History, Politics & International Relations,

University of Leicester.