Mind Kemp

TPQ features an article from yet another former blanket man. Guest writer Thomas Dixie Elliot narrates his encounter with Ross Kemp in what some might see as an example of the new fangled 'peace journalism' currently posturing on the commentariat cat walk. Ross Kemp has seriously disappointed Dixie Elliot.


I was asked to attend a meeting in Rosemount Resource Centre earlier in the year. Ross Kemp was making a documentary on the Good Friday Agreement and I was told and he wanted opinions as to whether or not it had brought about changes for the better.

I brought my opinions with me and aired some of them at the meeting. I told Kemp and his crew that as Derry celebrated being the 'UK City of Culture', according to statistics two thirds of it's children were living in poverty and that West Belfast and the City were 3rd and 4th in the league of unemployment across the whole UK. Various other points were put to Kemp from other Republicans and he was asked as to whether or not he was genuine in having our voices heard.

For the briefest of seconds, as Kemp stared straight at us, I saw Grant Mitchell who had come to sort things. He then told us that he was a documentary maker, someone who wouldn't be told by Sky what to put in or leave out of his ... yes his documentaries.

It was generally accepted that Kemp was interested in broadcasting our views and that we had nothing to lose in trusting him.

A month or so later I lost over 4 and a half hours of my life as I hosted him and his crew at my home, taking them from the Hunger Strikes and the election result which cost 6 lives to the fact that the UK City of Culture was the British way of letting the natives tell the world that the city once known as Free Derry was now accepting it's place within the UK. They had gift wrapped surrender and it was eagerly accepted by so called Republicans.

I took him and his crew to the City Cemetery when he wanted to film on the Derry Walls and showed him the graves of IRA volunteers, some of whom were still in their teens when they died. Michael Meenan was only 16 when the bomb meant for a British Army sanger exploded on his lap in the back of a car, the driver a 17 year old miraculously survived.

They died, I said, to remove the British and let our people determine their own future and not as the recent Sinn Fein Mayor had the gall to tell those listening at these very graves just a month or so beforehand, so that events such as The One Big Weekend, which was held in the former Ebrington Barracks, could be claimed as being the legacy of The Struggle.

Kemp, when filming had wrapped up, asked me if I was sure I wanted everything I had said included. I told him in no uncertain terms that I did. He then told me I would likely get about only 5 minutes air time and I accepted that if I got that much then my time wasn't wasted.

Imagine my anger when last week, as I was about to take my son to Gaelic football, I got a phone call from one of Kemp's crew, Lena Ferguson. She told me that my interview wouldn't be going out, neither would the interviews of 8 others from Derry. The crux of the program will be given over to the rioting in Belfast over the Summer, she added somewhat apologetically ...

In other words the fecking Flegs.

It seems that once again the truth doesn't fit if it might undermine the peace process. And clearly the programme makers were really only interested in the sensationalism normally associated with Kemp, which he himself had assured us was a thing of the past.

I don't really blame Lena Ferguson, she seemed genuine enough. And it was her job, I suppose, to pass on the fact that Ross Kemp is still as much a documentary maker as is Dog the Bounty Hunter.

We live and learn.


  1. Dixie I feel your disappointment but there are other/better ways of getting your story out there.The flag issue allows the Brits to portray us as a nation of sectarian morons which takes the focus of them.

  2. Pauline,

    unfortunately, some stories from Derry don't seem to get out at all unless they appear on the margins - in sites like these. I recall a very interesting article published here by Ann McCloskey which in my recollection was not being aired where it ahould have been. I think because there is this UK City of Culture thing they don't want anything that might be seen as rain on the parade.

  3. Dixie a cara you give it an honest go ,but an old hand like yourself should know that truth alone does not make good tv viewing,had you wrapped your idea,s up in wolly masks with big lads in uniform carrying even bigger guns then your opinion would probably have been given some air time especially if it carried menace in the message, cunts like Kemp are not interested in truth or the poverty of our kid its the ratings that dictate their thinking, you should have kidnapped the fucker kicked his melt in demanded a fortune from his channel,you can bet your arse you,d have been given a lot of time ...

  4. Marty,

    don't be putting ides into people's heads!!! The censors will be queuing up to run to the NUJ about us!!

  5. Anthony

    I wouldn't say this applies to Derry only. A few years ago I realised the press are restricted and so rarely waste my time. If I have something to put out I send it through here, via face book or if needed I set up a website to ensure the truth gets out there uncensored.

    Marty I would agree with you here in that it wasn't juicy enough for them, maybe too human and honest. Although I wouldn't advise that anyone take your last piece of advice. Lol

  6. Dixie

    You did your best and your far from the only one who have wasted their time due to people like Ross Kemp, join the club. He probably sees himself as a fearless documentary film maker, when in reality he is a Murdoch patsie.

    The worst thing this man did to you was not cutting the film as bad as that must have been, but not telephoning you himself, you treated him with respect by giving him your time and his failure to treat you in the same manner by not making this call makes him a cowardly and arrogant shit unworthy of respect.

    When they start out people like him often have the best of intentions but become engulfed in a system you can only prosper by keeping to unspoken guidelines. If you do not your out.

    I watched a chap by the name of Mason on C4 News last night, who I know was once a good solid guy, say "Derry or Londonderry what ever you prefer."

    Since I have known Paul he always used Derry for obvious reasons, yet he now clearly believes he must also use Londonderry, why because he fears he may be out of a job, or promotion will be blocked if he does not.

    Such insidious corruption eats into a young broadcaster until they end up a worthless old hack, a mouthpiece for the ruling elites.

  7. Dixie-

    I was looking forward to that episode-its a crying shame what them TV people have done to you but you would only have got in the way of Gerry Kelly been shown
    as the hero when the orange horde was held back last year at Ardoyne-

    There's 4 and a half hours you will never get back again and the rest of us will never see-pity-

  8. O/R,

    against that Mason might have to make a decision as to how much he can compromise on and might feel it is peripheral rather than core and that if he is going to have his voice killed on some hill it is maybe better some other than this particular one.

    I take the 49 steps perspective on matters like this. Where there are 100 steps we can venture out from the safety rail of principle for 49 but no more. It keeps us on the right side although by this stage sanding at the edge of the abyss.

    I suppose being an old communist you have much experience in trying to deal practically with matters that on the ground are grey rather than the black and white of paper. I long admired the CP people in Belfast for trying to think practically on matters whereas the Trots tended to go gung ho at everything and always seemed to end up where they started. You could always get a practical answer from the CP on local particular matters even if it was disagreeable and you couldn't sign up to it in th end.

    Blogs give us a freedom to write that we simply would not get in the media. Yet the media can get the message out to so many more people. How much do we temper to get a chunk through?

    I never find a satisfactory answer to these things, at least not one that I feel entirely comfortable with.

    But maybe feeling comfortable leads to us avoiding the risks that often need to be taken.

  9. Dixie. Ross Kemp ffs. What else did you expect? Next you'll be expecting Nolan to be an investigative journalist. Look what that tabloidist did to a sound investigative journalist like David Gordon - crap sells, considered longterm deep delving is a thing of the past

  10. 'A month or so later I lost over 4 and a half hours of my life...'

    Dixie, has it ever occurred to you that Kemp had the exact same thought about your interview and couldn't use it because much like your posts and blogs on the Quill, you were just well erm...crap?

  11. Brian Kelly in an abstract from one of his published works sort of sums it up:

    The dramatic resurgence of sectarianism on the streets of Belfast and elsewhere across the north of Ireland over the past year has taken establishment commentators by surprise. But in one sense, the new round of polarisation that has developed on the heels of loyalist ‘flag protests' shouldn't come as a shock at all. The Belfast Agreement never proposed to tackle deeply-rooted sectarian divisions head-on. Its success rested instead on a kind of enforced amnesia, in which society would move forward only so long as it was willing to evade tough questions about the past. Tens of millions of pounds have been poured into `re-branding' Belfast as a stable, post-conflict city ‘open for business', but beneath the surface sectarian tensions have lingered all along, emerging forcefully into the open during the loyalist picket of Holy Cross primary school in Ardoyne in 2001 and in the UVF siege of Short Strand a decade later, but manifested also in a long string of sectarian murders and pipe-bombings ignored by a mainstream media that sees itself as an adjunct of the tourist industry.

  12. Dixie
    you did a good thing and just because you told the truth to people who maybe wasters does not mean the truth itself is wasted.
    As Michael Henry rightly points out, they would rather highlight a manufactured truth, such as Kelly masquerading as a representative of his people than a genuine person telling it how it is.
    But the truth has a funny way of finding its own way through and irrespective of how disengaged Kemp was or was not in the latter process you made him aware and they can't erase that.

  13. From Beano Niblock

    There are a couple of reasons why whatever Dixie Elliot gave to Ross Kemp wouldn't be "aired" - no matter how important it is from Elliots point of view to relate why the IRA waged a campaign of sustained violence it is now, in an age of the here and now, old hat.

    And it is no longer sensational enough to sate the hunger of the modern tabloid junkies. In recent years we have been force fed a mixture of muck by the media. And in this respect the flag protests and the standoff at the Woodvale last 12th is manna for the unscrupulous.

    Whether it emanates from Channel 4 or its offspring's - from the fake pseudo documentaries so prevalent on Sky TV - including the Kemp Hard men or Dangerous Cities, The Football Factories, or Dog the Bogus Bounty Hunter.

    At home we have the gutter journalism propagated by the Sunday World and now being copied by the Sunday Life - where the truth is a secondary feature to lurid fabrication for the sake of selling a few extra copies.

    And you know what happens - the working class public read this because they think it is written for them. They seem to get a kick out of seeing a neighbour's name in print and gleefully look forward to the next issue. This is lazy journalism at its worst where so called investigative journalists rely on low level snitches to supply their copy.

    In general all working classes here accept their lot and are reluctant to move outside that zone. They seem to be content and well nourished on their diet of X Factor for supper on Saturday and a good helping of The Gutter Press for a refreshing Sunday breakfast.

  14. Beano,

    on the Sunday World its recent reporting on Pat McGeown was atrocious. If it didn't know at the time that it was wrong it has known since and still fails to make right what it got wrong.

  15. Somebody said...

    "Dixie, has it ever occurred to you that Kemp had the exact same thought about your interview and couldn't use it because much like your posts and blogs on the Quill, you were just well erm...crap?"

    And so says some Adamsite who hides behind various fake names like Sean Tracey etc...

    I have no problem with people posting under fake names but more often than not we find that cretins like the above do so because they are either idiots or incapable of putting two lines together without getting torn to pieces... Therefore they want no one to find out who they are.

  16. Dixie,

    this is one of the downsides of the penname. It is often used by people as a shield behind which they can hide to attack others. This is why I have long disliked the use of pseudonyms, even in those cases where the argument put might be in my favour. My own view is that a pseudonym should be used (and then only reluctantly) only when there is a fear of attack or the sack from work (both of which have happened to people) or if they are to spread knowledge rather than spray smear.

    In this case the commenter neither spread knowledge nor even smeared - they had a run of the mill pop - the sort of not OTT stuff you would get in a pub, which you easily dealt with. Plus the article was substantive and the comment hollow. It is really a case of no contest.

    If people think we should review policy on the use of anonymity then they can put their views forward.

  17. This is my take on pseudonym etc. People as AM said, use them for various reasons. But in general people have a writing style that is unique to them. And sooner or later they 'expose' themselves by how they word post's on blogs, spell the same words wrong, talking about events they have first hand knowledge about etc.... Kinda like digital footprints.

    I'll use MichaelHenry as an example. I stand to be corrected but I am sure it was it'sjustmackers the first to figure out his name because of his writing style on sites like 'Slugger, politics.ie' etc...

    Gerry Adams penning under 'Brownie' is another classic example.

    I use 'frankie' because it was nick name given to me by my peers when I was pup. Basically my daddy gave me a dodgy hair cut and I had to go to Jimmy Weirs on Brompton Pk, Ardoyne for a German Helmet.. My school friends at the time called me 'Frankenstein'..As everyone got older, it got shortned to 'frankie', to the point some family members still call me frankie as do some old school friends.. I know I have posted enough personal info on this site for anyone to figure out my real name if they really want to..

    Same as other's who use pseudonym's here. I'll hazzard a guess and say some (most) of the names used by posters on the TPQ are like mine, simply nick names...They maybe school yard names like mine, prison nick names etc..