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a staunch supporter of Harold Wilson and a self-opinionated bigot - but Bill is little better, a Jamaican with a distrust of 'ho
on 8 August 2014
Back in the early 70s, racial tension was endemic to the cities of England, nowhere more so than London. Increasing immigration led to fears based on a misunderstanding and a suspicion of West Indian newcomers, fed by ignorance. 'Love Thy Neighbour' was an attempt to bring this into focus and to teach the English that a black man's skin is no more offensive than his politics. To stress this, Bill moves next door to Eddie Booth, a staunch supporter of Harold Wilson and a self-opinionated bigot - but Bill is little better, a Jamaican with a distrust of 'honkys' and with chips on both shoulders (he is also a Tory). The prickly subject is addressed by humour although in 2014 the scripts come across as offensive to many people. A major problem is that Eddie is not as credible as Alf Garnett and the scripts are poor but Powell made a conscious effort to put racism into context and to teach the public that blind prejudice is both ridiculous and disdainful. Booth always comes off worse and the man of bigotry is held up as a figure of stupidity. It was a worthwhile effort to face a major problem and to educate the uninformed masses, but it is now dated and much-maligned; coming full circle, this attack against racism is now viewed as the ultimate in racism. Smethurst (Booth) put it best when he commented: 'it was a series made in the seventies for people of the seventies - and it should stay in the seventies.'