This harrowing documentary marks 25 years since the horrific shooting at Dunblane Primary School in 1996, when a teacher and 16 children lost their lives.
Any of our readers over the age of 35 will likely remember this awful tragedy, where a group of young students and their teacher were preparing for a PE lesson when a man – we won’t be naming him – entered the school gym armed with four legally-owned handguns. The campaigning that followed the incident helped put in place the highly restrictive gun laws we have today, which serve as a reminder of the horrors that occurred.
And so a documentary reflection on this is no easy job, especially for Lorraine Kelly who has a personal connection to the event – she reported on it in 1996, barely holding back tears as she told the nation of the lives lost. And Kelly then went on to befriend some of the parents who had lost children, and read a poem at their memorial service. She, more than anyone, knows that this programme needed to be approached gently.
Arriving in Dunblane two and a half decades later, she found a town still scarred by what happened. She speaks with those who lived through it – Les Haire, the first pandemic on the scene who found the teacher who had been desperately trying to protect her students, Colin McKinnon, whose son Brett was killed, and who suffered PTSD for years following, and Lynne McMaster, who almost didn’t send her daughter Victoria to school that day, but she begged to go in because of her love of PE.
Having these accounts as the focus was the right thing to do, and the documentary’s refusal to name or spotlight the perpetrator, nor give him the attention he clearly craved, meant that the overall message was a positive one. Out of this awful, horrific tragedy, Britain became one of the safest in the world in terms of gun crimes.
Carol Midgley in The Times says this programme displayed “the dignified aftermath of a devastating horror which could not, and should not, ever be forgotten.” Midgley praises Kelly’s presenting, saying she “was the right person to return there.” The Telegraph’s Chris Bennion agrees, saying “this documentary needed soft hands.” He says, “sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is put someone on camera and ask them to talk,” and “With every parent Kelly spoke to, you got a sense of a moment frozen in time.”
First shown March 2021.