Barking family go back in time for BBC documentary two-parter

The Irwin family with actor Rudolph Walker, centre, will feature in the documentary later this month

The Irwin family with actor Rudolph Walker, centre, will feature in the documentary later this month - Credit: BBC/Wall to Wall Media/Ian Watts

A family swapped phones for fast fashion when they travelled back through six decades – to a time before they were born.

Weininger and Janice Irwin in their 1950s and 1960s uniforms

Weininger and Janice Irwin in their 1950s and 1960s uniforms - Credit: BBC/Wall to Wall Media/Ian Watts

In a two-part BBC documentary airing this month, the Irwins are shown moving from their home in Dagenham’s Emerald Gardens to locations across Brixton to explore their own heritage as they relive black British Caribbean history.

The family-of-six began their time travel in 1948, with a visit to an air raid shelter in Clapham South.

“This was the best the British could do for the new Windrush arrivals,” fitness instructor Weininger Irwin, 53, explained.

Teenagers Tiana, Breanne, Shelasah and Romane were “not impressed” by the ration meal of corned beef and broccoli as they began three weeks of filming in July.


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Whizzing through the ’50s and ’60s, the family struggled with the digital detox but enjoyed reliving changing fashions – including chiffon shirts and medallions in the ’70s.

Weininger, whose parents emigrated from Jamaica in the early ’60s, said long forgotten memories of racism emerged through their brush with the past – including bullying and discrimination.

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“The ’70s wasn’t a pretty time,” he said. “When I went to school I was spat at, those kind of things happened every day.”

But his memories of the filming are happier – from dressing as a bus driver, his dad’s life-long career – to enjoying a “nostalgic” diet of corned beef and white rice.

Chocolate fingers in the ’80s were the real highlight, though. “It was pure glee when we saw them – my son Shelasah was happy as Larry!” he joked.

The family met everyone from singer Kenny Lynch to former West Indies cricketer Clive Lloyd.

“We played with cricket with him, it was amazing,” enthused Weininger, whose own sportiness comes into focus when the family settle down to an episode of Gladiators – starring him. “It was a fantastic opportunity to go back in time – I’m still in awe of the experience.”

Back in Time for Brixton airs on BBC2 at 9pm on November 21 and 28.

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