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Coronation Street writer revisits lost way of Islington life

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 September 2015

Susan, back, second right, with interviewees at the premier

Susan, back, second right, with interviewees at the premier

Archant

“When you tell people you’re from Islington, there’s an assumption of wealth.”

So says Susan Oudot, producer of a new documentary about life in 20th century Islington.

Susan, a Coronation Street script writer, was born in Milner Square in 1955, where she lived until 1972.

Her family was one of hundreds to be moved out by Islington Council for the square’s restoration: part of a wider scheme of gentrification visible in the borough today.

Like many others, Susan, 60, loves the countless bars and restaurants on swanky Upper Street. But she was troubled that this type of facelift has come at the cost of close-knit community life she experienced while growing up on Milner Sqaure.

It inspired her to produce Through the Hole in the Wall, which premiered at The Screen on the Green last Tuesday.

Named after the long, pitch black walkway off Almeida Street which led to the square, Susan interviewed seven former residents who, like her, were relocated in 1972 and never returned. The recurring theme is that life was never the same again.

Married mum-of-four Susan, who still lives in the borough on Arundel Square, Highbury, explained: “Islington, and Milner Square, is something I’m very passionate about. When you tell people you’re from Islington, there’s an assumption of wealth. It’s more closely associated with Tony Blair and Boris Johnson than with its working class core of past years.

“So I wanted to show people what Islington used to be like. Communities don’t exist in the same way any more. In Milner Square, people pretty much stayed there all the time as it was so close-knit. I had grandparents, aunts and uncles in Milner Square.

“Islington is beautiful now. Who doesn’t love the shops, bars and restaurants on Upper Street? The downside is, it’s ridiculously expensive to live here and so those close communities go. That’s happened across London, not just Islington.”

The documentary clocks in at 51 minutes, which Susan admits was longer than she ever expected.

“It was meant to be tiny, but we got a small amount of Heritage Lottery funding and it grew. We had a crew of 11 professionals who worked for little or nothing. People were very taken by the project, so we ended up with a very professional documentary made for peanuts. It’s beautiful, and far exceeds what I imagined it would be.”.

To watch the documentary, visit vimeo.com/138173028


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