Should The Accident be linked to Grenfell?

Alfie Blincowe discusses the new Channel 4 show and its controversy as it deals with difficult topics.

Alfie Blincowe
4th November 2019
Credit: Youtube
Channel 4's new drama, The Accident, centres around the community of a small, Welsh town that is torn apart by a factory explosion that takes the life of a group of teenagers. Everyone is looking for someone to blame as parents morn their children. The first episode of the four-part series aired on 24th of October.

News outlets such as The Guardian, The BBC, The Independent and others argue that this program says volumes about the real-life events of The Grenfell Tower fire of 2017, but is it disingenuous to link the two?

The real Grenfell fire shook the nation when a blaze broke out in a housing block that killing 72 people, and uprooted the lives of the remaining 221 people who lived there. Just these numbers compared to the ten teenagers, and a smattering of adults involved in the fictional explosion leaves The Accident seeming somewhat toothless. Whilst both are tragedies, does it not cheapen the victims of the real fire by comparing their deaths to this much smaller, fictional event?

Some say that it is too soon and in poor taste to make a television adaptation of such a recent event

The Grenfell inquiry brought up questions about the systemic problems in building regulations, fire safety, and inadequate housing that led to the fire. This is likely where the similarities between the show and real-life will become clear; in the aftermath.

So far the links made between the two in press releases seem weak, like misleading adverts that use real death to promote a drama that are only slightly relevant. The series was written by Jack Thorne, The BAFTA winner behind TV series such as This is England, Skins,  and the film Wonder. Thorne has even said "I had an idea in my head and then Grenfell happened and the idea changed." He also shared that he was "offered [The job of adapting] Grenfell three times by three different production companies… but I didn't feel like there were the facts in place to look at it properly without hurting an awful lot of people, trampling over people's lives."

Some say that it is too soon and in poor taste to make a television adaptation of such a recent event because it still affects hundreds of people's lives. I feel that it is in even poorer taste to promote a fictional drama with a real-life catastrophe.

The Grenfell Tower fire is a sensitive subject that effected real people and destroyed real lives; that is why we need to talk about it. Television adaptations should be calling out the appalling state of things that led to that fire, much like HBO's recent hit Chernobyl. A drama that tiptoes around the issue should not be given the same praise as one that actually tackles them.

The Accident it a good drama in its own right, and hopefully the following episodes will delve more into the systematic corruption in our country that allows events like Grenfell to happen. Linking this show with Grenfell before it even aired, in my opinion, has cheapened the drama, making it seem anti-climactic and disrespectful. The whole thing is a missed opportunity that has been falsely advertised.

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