The Pusher & Dutch Populism: The importance of Location

This time around I will be looking at two separate documentaries for TV and radio, both effectively investigate an engaging relevent story via their respective broadcast formats and I will be exploring how these productions use location to further expand on the ability to tell a story.

The two productions are “Manchesters serial killer? ” first broadcast on channel 4 and documenting the mysterious accounts of individuals being found lifeless in the canals of Manchester after nights out, alongside a BBC world service broadcast on the rise of dutch nationalist populism  called Assignment: In search of Henk and Ingrid.

2016 was a year we will all come to  remember, it was a year that unfortunately will go down as that time we lost so many leading lights in the artistic world, Musicians and actors to name a few.It was also the year that saw a shift in the political establishment that gave way to the rise of populism in the west,fueled by the discontent of ordinary people saw the culmination of Brexit and the election of Donald trump, undoubtably for better or for worse this sent shockwaves through the political system.Coming to 2017 one such figure vitalised by this surge in nationalism is non other than the dutch politician and  leader of ‘party for freedom’ Geert Wilders,who although losing the election very much increased his influence as a voice for what he would argue is the forgotten people. ‘In the run-up to its election on March 15th the international media descended on the Netherlands, speculating that the country might become the third “domino” to fall to nationalist populism’ (Economist,2017) The BBC being one such media platform produced a radio documentary on this issue,exploring the reasons why this controversial figure has risen to such a high esteem.

The documentary delves into the thoughts and feelings of the dutch people, for context ‘The PVV conjures the image of “Henk and Ingrid”, a mythical, ethnically Dutch couple supposedly pushed around by Muslim immigrants, the EU and corrupt political elites.’ (Financial times,2017)  As so titled the reporter of the documentary travels far and wide across the country to interview members of the public to ask for their thoughts and opinions on the election and why they are vitalised by the populist ideals of Wilders.location is undoubtably used effectively via radio actuality of the sounds of bustling,  busy and talkative crowds around the campaign trail of Wilders to really capture the essence and hectic nature of the scene.For the majority of the documentary the reporter ventures into the suburbs and houses of the dutch people with an inclusion of the sounds you would expect the hear in these environments as these people relay their opinions on the issues they face in every day life.Location in effect plays a crucial part in this production by adding the essense  of these environments to ultimately give this documentary a sense of place and time,positioning and transporting the listener regardless of location to these varying environments as this story is told via radio broadcast that reaches across the world and likewise engages via the utilisation of  actuality to ground the listener in the location via the sounds of the Netherlands.

As a student in Manchester I can well and truly say that I love this city, its got everything you could ask for as a student, the nightlife food and people are all great.So when hearing about the location infamous story of ‘The Manchester pusher’ for the first time you can understandably now feel a bit uneasy if your walking home alone late at night after a few. For those who don’t know the Manchester pusher is sort of a local urban legend which involves the discovery of numerous bodies being found  over the years  in the canals of Manchester that are still to this day a mystery to many on how they got there. Many local people have come to believe that ‘a serial killer who drowns his victims might be behind the deaths of dozens of people found in Manchester’s rivers.” (DailyMail,2016) with authorities however denying this claim that this is the involvement of a killer who stalks lone victims while they stumble home from clubbing in Manchester.


The documentary first broadcast on channel 4 captivates its audiences by posing this unanswered question to the viewer presenting both sides of the story in an attempt to unmask the truth behind these mysterious deaths ‘.reignited the debate about the possibility of a serial killer’ (ManchesterEveningNews,2016) . Throughout the production a sense of place is well and truly established with the numerous tracks and sweeping pans of the Manchester City environment. With streets, aerial shots and of course canals all being shown to really position the viewer in these location as the story unfolds.As the documentary progresses a number of notable interviews with the victims families and police officers are utilised effectively and expanded upon by the use of location.As the interviewee elaborates on the mystery, the documentary positions these contributors in the scenes of the incidents itself by the canals.not only does this help visually express what the interviewee is discussing but also expands on the sense of engagement the viewer will have due to the inclusion of the environments where these potential deaths could occur, effectively transporting the viewer to the location of the story all emphasis the sense of place.

Throughout  i felt a sense of unease which the documentary effectively  instills by implementing haunting and foreboding shots of the empty, secluded and dark canals as chilling music sets the tone of the production perfectly while simultaneously transporting the viewer to the environments of these incidents.In addition locations such as bars and clubs are all utilised to relay a recreation of the chain of events that unfolded the nights these people went missing, with additional security camera footage interweaving between footage of these locations to all around visually convey the narrative to the viewer as the story is told by the numerous contributors on this frightening but undoubtably intriguing Manchester mystery.



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