Review: 7/7: One Day in London
With the 7th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings just days away, this documentary attempts to piece together the events of that day with testimonies from over 50 people who were directly involved in the attacks, and how the lasting impact of them has influenced their lives. With a programme such as this, it would be easy for it to descend into crude sensationalism in the vein of Air Crash Investigation, Seconds from Disaster or Infamous Assassinations, in which information is presented in a way to morbidly milk tension at the expense of treating the dead and injured in a dignified manner. Fortunately, however, with 7/7: One Day in London, this is not the case and it is instead a sensitive look at the events and their aftermath.
After the end of the inquest into the attacks ended in May 2011, numerous stories came forward that had not been heard before of ordinary people who by sheer chance were caught up in the explosions. These are stories of bravery, of difficulty and horror, of people rising to the challenge of coping with the immediate and long term effects of what they saw and what they experienced. The programme gathers together accounts from commuters, emergency service workers, underground workers and the families of victims and presents them compassionately.
There is no presence of an intruding narrator. Instead the victims, through their stories and the way in which they are intercut with each other, provide the narrative: what they saw, what they heard and what they felt. Additional information is provided by text on the screen, such as how long it took the emergency services to arrive, and what was going on above ground immediately after the blasts. It is profound to see how the perception of time differs between those who were intimately involved and those who were on the periphery – an eternity for the former lasted just minutes for the latter.
This is something which needs to be watched. It is impossible for people who did not directly experience these things to understand just precisely what their impact was, nor how people can cope with what they experienced. Myself being 12 at the time of the attacks, I wasn’t really aware of them in any more than a general sense and perhaps this is the same for a lot of people my age. This documentary allows ordinary people to speak for themselves about what 7/7 meant to their own individual lives, rather than politicians and newsreaders talking in general terms about abstract concepts.
7/7: One Day in London aired on Monday, and is available on the BBC iPlayer here until Thursday 12th July 2012.