Network of the World

While on tour of England in June 2001, the New York Surveillance Camera Players (SCP-New York) were fortunate to meet Roddy Mansfield, an activist and videographer who makes his living as a Senior Assistant Producer for Network of the World, a satellite TV show that "airs" (can be picked up) in Asia, Indonesia and Australia. To the SCP-New York, Roddy is best known for Pig Brother is Watching You, his excellent video documentary about police surveillance of protesters in England, which was included in a video anthology published by Undercurrents in 1999 or 2000.

While in Bath, England, Roddy taped the SCP-New York as the group performed It's OK, Officer along Walcott Street and God's Eyes Here on Earth in front of the Abbey Church on 9 June 2001 as part of the International Fringe Festival. He also interviewed each of the three players (Bill, Miranda and Susan) as they sat at a cafe after the performance at the church. Thanks to Roddy, on 14 June 2001 the entire group was also invited into the London studios of Network of the World, which had arranged for what was billed as a "debate" between Bill and a police superintendant. As we've previously noted,

no debate took place. Instead, the interviewers posed a few questions to the two guests, who didn't get a chance to speak to each other directly on camera. Everyone in the SCP noticed that the questions posed to the policeman (a Superintendent [Kevin] Morris) were far more confrontational and difficult than the questions that were posed to Bill. Though the show will certainly be very favorable towards the SCP, the group would have liked a more level "playing field," especially since Morris was a decent, thoughtful man who was not unconditionally in favor of the use of surveillance cameras in public places. (For example, he noted that one could never be sure that the occurrence of fewer speeding violations could reasonably be attributed to the installation of surveillance cameras, and not something like the weather.)

In the version of the show that was eventually aired, about five minutes (the last five minutes) is devoted to the "debate." The rest of the eleven-minute-long segment is made up of footage recorded in Bath. This part of the show contains an excellent introduction to the SCP-New York's tour of England, great shots of the SCP-New York performing It's OK, Officer in front of surveillance cameras that are rotating around to see or avoid seeing the play, and an extensive and cogent interview with Bill (but not any of the others!) on a variety of subjects, including the purpose and methods of the group, satellites and the Global Positioning System, the militarization of law enforcement, unmanned photo-reconnaissance drones, and sonographic and thermographic cameras, which produce images of non-visible phenomena (sound and heat, respectively).

Though it doesn't contain a single shot of God's Eyes Here on Earth, which was no doubt felt to be "too controversial" by the show's executive producer(s), and though it contains a glaring inaccuracy -- the line, "the Surveillance Camera Players agree that CCTV is useful in preventing crime," which is used as part of the transition from the Bath segment to the "debate" -- the show aired by Network of the World is pretty damn good. We hope it gets seen.

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