Dr Kate Cook discusses the Mancunian history of the suffrage movement
Sally Lindsay interviews Dr Kate Cook in Manchester Central Library
A BBC documentary revealing the Manchester story of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst features expert insight from Manchester Metropolitan University academic Dr Kate Cook, Senior Lecturer in Law and Head of the Sylvia Pankhurst Gender and Diversity Research Centre.
“Emmeline Pankhurst: Making of a Militant” was commissioned by the BBC at MediaCityUK in Manchester and made by independent producer Saffron Cherry TV, working with TV production company Lion Eyes TV.
The documentary is presented by former Coronation Street actor Sally Lindsay who interviewed Dr Cook inside Manchester’s Central Library. The documentary visits landmark locations across Manchester to piece together the story of the iconic suffragette’s life in the city.
Dr Cook said: “It was a pleasure to be involved with this project. The Mancunian history of the suffrage movement is tremendously important to me and this team has brought that to life, in a fascinating programme.
“My contribution includes talking about the case of Lily Maxwell, a local woman who accidentally received a vote 50 years before women were officially able to vote. Her action helped to demonstrate that women really did want to be able to vote and so moved the suffrage debate on, another step.”
Marking the centenary of votes for women
Set for broadcast in June, “Making of a Militant” received a premiere screening in front of 400 guests at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester Hotel. The hotel is on the site of the Free Trade Hall, which hosted the first public meetings about women’s suffrage in 1868.
Marketing Manchester is supporting "Making of a Militant" as part of its #RadicalManchester campaign to mark the centenary of votes for women and celebrate Manchester’s role as the birthplace of innovation and progress.
Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, said: “Revealing fascinating detail about the life of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, Making of a Militant provides a timely reminder of Manchester’s role in the story of women’s suffrage.
“Commissioned and produced in Manchester, this documentary also highlights the wealth of TV production and broadcasting talent based in the city region.
“Visitors to modern Manchester can see many of the locations visited by Sally Lindsay during the production of this documentary. I strongly urge anyone with an interest in learning more about the story of women’s suffrage to come and discover Emmeline Pankhurst’s Manchester for themselves.”
With the help of Emmeline’s surviving relatives, including the suffragette leader’s great-granddaughter Dr Helen Pankhurst, the documentary sees Sally Lindsay dig deep into the archives to reveal her roots in radical Victorian Manchester.
She finds a city brimming with political activists – including Emmeline’s own family – where women set up the first meetings and societies demanding the vote, years before the suffragettes.
She finds out more about young Emmeline’s political heroines, and unearths amazing archive of a Manchester woman who voted in an election 50 years before the landmark act of 1918.
The Free Trade Hall premiere of "Emmeline Pankhurst: The Making Of A Militant" concluded with a question and answer session with Emmeline Pankhurst’s great-granddaughter, Dr Helen Pankhurst, Sally Lindsay, and producer and director Helen Tither.
Lindsay says that Manchester was ‘massively’ important in making Emmeline Pankhurst the iconic figure she is today and that it was a privilege to have been able to find out more about her life.
She added: “I don’t know why we haven’t celebrated her more as a Mancunian hero before now actually. I think maybe people have always associated her more with London and forgotten her Manchester roots – hopefully this film will put that right.
“Maybe it’s partly down to the Mancunian spirit – so many amazing things have happened here, like anti-slavery campaigns, the Peterloo Massacre, that I suppose as a city we take it for granted that all these radical things have happened here.
“Making this film though we really noticed that the tide was turning – with the centenary of some women getting the vote this year there is a definite interest in Emmeline and finding out more about her and celebrating her on her home turf.”
"Emmeline Pankhurst: The Making of a Militant" will be shown on BBC One in the North West at 7.30pm on June 8 and nationally on BBC 4 and the BBC iPlayer in mid-June.