Last night’s Mr Reeves and the Riots on BBC1 would have been a recommended watch, even were we not a Croydon-themed website.
The outstanding impression left by the programme was the exceptional wisdom and tolerance of Maurice Reeves, the 80-year-old owner of Reeves Corner furniture store, the flaming beacon that has become the symbol London’s August riots.
Not for him the knee-jerk hang ’em and flog ’em soundbytes of some politicians, who would say anything for a cheap headline, pre-judging and undermining the legal process.
Unlike some of these rent-a-gobs, Reeves had seen his 144-year-old business burn to the ground.
Despite being one of the best-known victims of 8/8 (although unlike many in London Road, Reeves had not lost everything), rather than being bitter or angry, during the course of this film Reeves was shown going out of his way to speak to looters and gang members, to get a better understanding of what happened on that infamous night. If only to better understand what causes the riots to avoid a repeat of the disaster.
As he observed towards the end of the documentary, the 8/8 riots had actually served to bring him closer together with his wider community than he had ever been before. Watching Reeves’s calm tolerance and understanding, and seeing the hard work of some of the community groups he met with, this was something that provided true pride in the people of Croydon.
The programme is only available on BBC iPlayer for seven days. It ought to be required viewing for every Croydon councillor and MP.
- Last Night’s Viewing: Up in Flames: Mr Reeves and the Riots, BBC1 Living with the Amish, Channel 4 (independent.co.uk)
- Croydon 8/8: Eyewitnesses ask questions of police approach (insidecroydon.com)
- Minister complains as council fails to claim £10m riot grant (insidecroydon.com)
- Croydon burns as looters storm the Whitgift Centre (insidecroydon.com)