Grenfell Tower

Resident near Grenfell launches petition against BBC series

A woman who lives near Grenfell Tower has launched a petition against a three-part BBC drama series on the 2017 fire, which claimed the lives of 72 people.

Lancaster West Estate resident Cecilia Corzo decided to launch the petition on Change against the drama, announced in February, calling it degrading.

The BBC said the new series would piece together the stories of Grenfell survivors, bereaved families and firefighters, along with elements of the on-going inquiry around the fire. 

Corzo said: “I think attention to Grenfell is important because none of the demands of the survivors have been met and none of the safety implications have been implemented, but the problem with this show is its genre.

“A TV drama is not appropriate as the fire happened only six years ago and people are still grieving. It doesn’t seem right to hire actors to play the victims.”

After reading about the series on Twitter, Corzo joined some friends to write a complaint to the BBC.

The broadcaster sent the same reply to all of them, promising a sensitive and respectful approach to the story.

Tributes to the victims of the fire on the walls covering the area - Credit: Morgane Guillou
Tributes to the victims of the fire on the walls covering the area – Credit: Morgane Guillou

A petition to change or stop the series

With encouragements from her close circle, the 28-year-old bijoux artist and filmmaker subsequently decided to create the petition, which has collected nearly 55,000 signatures.

She added: “I was quite frustrated after I received the BBC’s response, as it felt like a copy-paste generic email and it felt like nobody in my area had a say in all this.

“I think I have the ability to do something like this because I didn’t lose anyone in the fire, but if it was to fall on one of the people who were directly affected, it would require a lot of effort from them while they may still be trying to move on and grieve in peace.

“A friend of my cousin lost her daughter in the fire and the BBC told her they would reward the time and concern she would give to the show by letting her choose the actor who would play her daughter.

“She was appalled by this proposal and asked them to never contact her again.”

Corzo hopes the petition will either stop the show or encourage the BBC to turn it into a documentary instead, as she thinks this format would be more dignifying in light of the events.

Sensitive projects

Founder of the community-led organisation Justice4Grenfell Yvette Williams said the campaign does not support this project either but chose to remain neutral and respect the choices of survivors getting involved with the series.

She said: “Now is not the time for dramatization, but if the victims want their story told in this way then we shouldn’t take this choice away from them.

“I believe the series won’t be released for another two years during which the inquiry should be completed and the community’s vibe may change, so we will see.”

Associate producer on the series Ahmed Peerbux carried out interviews with those involved as part of the show.

He told the BBC: “We have been working on this drama for more than five years now, and it is only right that such a terrible event, seared into the national psyche, should be approached with rigour and not rushed.

“We are immensely grateful to the men and women who have shared their stories with us, and let us into their lives – we couldn’t possibly hope to honour their experiences without the time and trust they have given us.”

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