Wonderland: The Men Who Won't Stop Marching

  • The List
  • 23 May 2011
Channel Hopper - Wonderland: The Men Who Won't Stop Marching

Intriguing documentary subject that avoids asking challenging questions

While the men of the Shankill Road blast away on their flutes and bang against their bass drums, it acts as a stark contrast with the inner turmoil that results in many of them living in silence, the worst stirrings of their memories leaving them mute against the prevailing winds of change. In Wonderland: The Men Who Won’t Stop Marching (BBC2, Wed 1 Jun, 9pm), documentary-maker Alison Millar keeps hammering away at these stoical Ulstermen who have bolted away the horrors they have witnessed or perhaps even been party to.

Somehow learning from Belfast’s bloody past is the only way to save the children, such as Jordan, a lad with a cheeky grin and a love of percussion whose innocence has already been tainted by seeing the aftermath of a suicide. One current drummer admits to acting like a kid on the march as his childhood was spent worrying that he might die at the end of a sniper’s rifle at any moment.

But are these people unreconstructed bigots? Millar doesn’t really tackle this head-on, aside from asking one band leader whether he would allow a Catholic in: he would, but only if they renounced their faith and became a Protestant. The young lads of the area are joining a band as there is little else to do, but once there, the entrenched prejudices and siege mentality can only breed bitterness in further generations. Is that really a choice?

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