Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News Shorts & Other Busyness

Dirty Dramas

Squall 7, Summer 1994, pg. 8.

“The BBC are looking for a squat in London with large rooms, in order to shoot a scene for a forthcoming drama on BBC 1. Could you put us in touch with some squatters please?” said a message left on the Squatter’s Action for Secure Homes’ answer-machine.

And so SQUASH duly obliged and put them in contact with several squatters living in London. Patrick Karam, the location manager responsible for finding a suitable film set, arrived at a Kings Cross address after already viewing six other squats. “We’re looking for a large room that’s pretty dark and dingy,” he said snap-happy with the camera. The squatter took him around his house but everything proved to be “far too clean”.

“You see, I’m afraid the bit in the drama which takes place in the squat requires a stereotypical, dirty and dingy mattress-slung-on-the-floor type squat,” explained Karam, incidentally on his first location job for the BBC. So the squatter took him down to the basement of the house, the room that had received the least renovation. Although the squatters had removed the debris from the room and shored up the roof, it was the dampest, dirtiest room in the crumbling house and Karam enthusiastically shot off a load more photos. Karam then left the squat saying that they would be in touch soon. The squatter then informed SQUASH of the visit.

The next and last thing they heard from Patrick Karam was a message saying:

“Patrick Karam, location manager here. Er, thanks for your previous help. I’ve visited eight squats in London and we still can’t find one that’s dirty enough to film this sequence in. Can you recommend any more?”

The message was replied to by a member of SQUASH, well-aware that one minutes stereotypical impression on a BBC 1 drama could undo a year’s worth of campaigning for a more informed debate. Although the text of the reply is unavailable, it is understood that the said SQUASH representative offered to pay a visit to Patrick Karam’s house and home, in order to suitably prepare it for the location shot he was looking for.