Followed by Q&A with Dir Olly Lambert and Ryan. “I wanted to see policemen being attacked,” says Ryan, 19, as he sits beside his parents. “I wanted to see them being injured, I wanted to see them being treated the way they treat us. This was going to change society. Hopefully for the better.”
Ryan’s parents, Kerry and Liam, are looking at the floor, or eyeing me carefully. I ask if they were angry with their son for going down to the riots in Manchester. “No,” replies Kerry, smiling. “We’d have gone ourselves if we were young enough. He’s a good lad, he’s on the right agenda. He wants to make a difference.”
In August 2011, parents all over Britain were waking up to a morning they had never imagined. For some, it was the police knocking on the door, for others, it was the sight of a pile of stolen goods in their child’s bedroom. Some simply realised that it was their kid who had been out on the streets, smashing windows, looting shops and attacking the police.
In sitting rooms and kitchens around the country, these families endured some of the most difficult conversations of their lives. Olly Lambert’s film takes viewers inside those homes and inside those conversations. Many of these families would find their children facing lengthy prison sentences, and they themselves were singled out by a prime minister who blamed the worst riots in recent British history on ‘a lack of proper parenting, a lack of proper upbringing, a lack of proper ethics, a lack of proper morals’.
Eileen and Alan Bretherton’s son Liam had recently served in Afghanistan, and was at the beginning of a promising career in the army. He got caught up in the events of last summer while home on leave; consequently, his parents now have to face the fact that the son in whom they took so much pride is now an ex-offender whose military career is in ruins.
In Manchester, childhood sweethearts Kerry and Liam Parkes looked on as their 19-year-old son defended the riots and took pride in what he did on the streets of Manchester. And in Willesden, David Clark watched his son break down in tears in fear of what his future may now hold.
“This was the best TV journalism on the riots so far….. My Child the Rioter made you think so hard about a well-covered subject that you changed your mind several times even while watching.” Andrew Billen, The Times.
“Riveting… Here is a fascinating view of crime, punishment, morality and parenting in today’s Britain – complex areas simply illuminated”. Martin James, Sunday Times
“Devastatingly straightforward” The Guardian
“An outstanding documentary…. Instead of taking the usual shrill, censorious line, Olly Lambert’s film was carefully understated and more puzzled than anything else.” John Porter, Sunday Telegraph
“Excellent” Deborah Orr, The Guardian.
“Brilliant… As always the truth is rather less black and white than the Prime Minister imagined.” The Times
“Excellent…. You’d have to be absolutely blameless yourself as a parent to confidently announce that it was adult delinquency alone that had produced this result. I couldn’t manage the necessary self-righteousness.” Tom Sutcliffe, Independent on Sunday
Producer / Director: Olly Lambert
Film Editor: John Mister
Composer: Mat Davidson
Camera: Will Edwards, Johann Perry, Jon Sayers
Sound: Chris Gibbions, Tony Burke, Malcolm Hirst
Assistant Producers: Maria Atherton, Batsheva Lazarus
Co-Producer: Chloe Fairweather
Series Editor: Nick Mirsky