Many of us can remember where we were during the events of the 7th of July 2005. For 52 people and their families life was about to change. To commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the London Bombings the BBC told the story of Julie Nicholson’s memories of the day. How she found out that her daughter Jenny was one of the victims at the Edgware Road tube station explosion. This programme was adapted from a book that Julie Nicholson wrote and consequently is based on true facts.
Programmes like Songs for Jenny only need two factors to make them powerful and thought-provoking and that is honesty and simplicity. Songs for Jenny has certainly achieved these. The second scene is the family as they were, all sat together at the dinner table, everything we need to know is shown – Jenny is the older out of 3 siblings and she has a mum and a dad, and her family are happy and close. This is achieved very simply, showing a very normal and simple family dynamic. As you watch you may be able to relate to this family group. I suppose that is the point. This is a normal family like yours and mine and during the programme there are flashbacks to which reinforce this fact.
When writing about a programme it is normally very easy to pick out and write about key emotional moments which guided the story. Except this is not a piece of fiction, it is fact….. If I really had to pick out something to discuss I would choose two moments in particular. The first is after Julie has gone to view Jenny’s body and she cannot face getting on a tube to Paddington station, so instead she instead hails a taxi. The driver asks her about her day and so on and so she explains the events that have brought her to London. This leads to a kind gesture – he insists on driving her to Reading rather than letting her get the train, and does not charge her for the journey. He says he wants her to know that there are kind people in this world. I realise this is perhaps a strange scene to discuss. Surely it should be about the family? This scene shows how the bombs affected and changed the people of London. How the people of London were also mourning the dead. The second choice is again possibly a strange option but it is when Julie is speaking to her young nephew. He is aged about 8 or 9 and he is asking questions. What was she doing on the train? Where was she standing? Was she reading? How did she fall? I think most programmes would not want to have this type of conversation. Why bring up a child’s questions? Having a child doing this shows a sense of naivety. He doesn’t see the true horror, he doesn’t understand fully what’s happened and that the world is still a safe place to be. But that is exactly how he should feel. To me this is very powerful. Sometimes seeing something through a child’s eyes is easier and kinder. I can’t really fault this programme, and when I finished watching it, I felt as though I knew something about Jenny and her family, which was the point. A truly moving and emotional piece of television.