I'm really looking forward to seeing this as I was (kind of) involved in its development. Back in March last year I received an email from the producers of the documentary, Rare Day, part of it said:
"I am working on a drama-documentary for Channel 4 which is looking to investigate the stresses and strains on the transport sector, in particular, the London Underground and the capital's railways. I was very interested to read your blog Going Underground and, in particular the correspondence you have with some Tube drivers themselves.
Our initial focus will be on case studies of the workers themselves, and I would appreciate any help you can give me in locating such individuals who can speak about their experiences working on the Underground. All conversations will be completely confidential and just for background research at the moment."
I was asked not to blog about this at the time, so fired off some emails to some Tube staff I know and asked if they could help. I also pointed the production company in the direction of some forums and other Tube blogs who may have been able to help.
The documentary gives the inside story about parts of the Tube network we don't see. "workers reveal the dilemmas and pressures that they must reconcile to keep this hugely complex and strained system running.
Actors voice the precise words of the workers: train drivers, maintenance workers, station staff and controllers. They negotiate the difficulties of storing dead bodies after suicides and the hazards of fixing signal failures within an ageing infrastructure.
They confront aggressive passengers and emergency incidents and try to make sense of a bewildering array of procedures and targets."
I'd like to thank the Tube staff that helped out. You know who you are. It was interesting that Rare Day & Channel 4 chose this approach of using actors to voice the thoughts rather than real staff themselves. I also got a few responses back to my initial email where I really had to reassure the staff that their real names would not be used.
I'm intrigued as to what we will discover. Looks like there will also be an answer to that age old question "Ever wondered why you've heard a 'good service' announcement over the tannoy even when you've been stuck on a train for the past 10 minutes?"
Update: 1st February - TfL's press office have been in touch with me and have said that they will be watching with interest as the producers seem to have taken a highly selective and partisan approach. They say that the film-makers and Channel 4 were given numerous opportunities to put their claims to London Underground’s Managing Director Mike Brown directly, including an interview on camera but flatly declined, "preferring to base their programme on claims that they were either unwilling or simply unable to substantiate."
Update - 2nd February 9am - One of the first national dailies to review tonight's show is The Daily Telegraph who did give TfL the opportunity to respond. They focus on the dead bodies stored in cupboards story. "One male member of the Tube’s Emergency Response Unit said leaving bodies in cupboards was very disrespectful. He told Channel 4’s Confessions from the Underground: “As far as I understand it, London Ambulance services have limited resources and a few years back they stopped taking anybody who’s deceased into their ambulances back to hospitals".
A spokesman for London Underground explained workers were offered support and counselling should they need it and said: “Following agreed procedures, a body may be moved to a secure room within the station to await collection by undertakers. We believe our staff do a fantastic job in responding to such difficult circumstances and they are offered counselling support, if necessary.”