A white working-class protester spoke for many as he said: “When you’re shouting ‘white privilege’, that makes me sad because you haven’t seen the way I grew up.” The BBC is often accused of ignoring voices like these, but here they were, albeit balanced by members of the black community discussing their experiences of racism.
The cameras followed Rees into meetings with the council’s PR boss, and of course this programme was a PR exercise to some degree – Rees was conscious of being viewed as “a black politician who only talks about race issues, and not being seen as a serious politician”.
But the film did a fine job of showing how Rees navigated his way through this episode, and of showing us the class divisions in Bristol. And when the attention-seeking artist Marc Quinn erected his own statue on the plinth, Rees had the measure of him.
“You made a statement, you’ve had your bit on Channel 4,” he said, before revealing that he’d be sending Quinn the bill for removing it: “He needs to know you can’t run around doing what you want without accounting for the consequences.”
Isn’t it nice to have a grown-up in charge?