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Changes: Ken Loach

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Annie [00:00:04] Hello and welcome to Changes, I am Annie Macmanus. Hopefully you have been able to enjoy in the last couple of weeks, a tangible shift in the seasons from winter to spring. It's such a hopeful time when you realise, slowly but surely, that the light is seeping in to the evenings and the blossoms are coming out and you've just got this kind of vision of long nights ahead and summer days and it's just- *sigh of relief* you can see around the corner of the season. I thought it was really great last week to have Deborah Francis White talking about the seasons changing and using nature as an example of how we as a species are meant to live in a world of change, and the more we can embrace change in our lives on a daily basis, the more we can celebrate it and lean into it, hopefully the more kind of alive and vibrant we will feel as people. It's great to have you with us anyway, especially for this episode where I am so honoured to bring you a conversation with one of the greatest film directors of all time, Ken Loach. Ken is a man who you could say through his films has dedicated his career to change. Although, as you will hear, he is very modest. I felt like I was in the presence of a true British icon last week when he shuffled into the studio totally solo, incredibly charming, completely unassuming, sat down and very generously shared his stories with me. At 87 years old, Ken Loach's career spans nearly six decades and his long list of awards includes the first ever British Independent Film Award, a BAFTA for Outstanding British Film and the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, not once but two times. His socially engaged films tell the stories of characters that we don't often hear from. From Kes about a bullied and abused working class boy who trains his kestrel, to The Wind That Shakes The Barley which stars Cillian Murphy fighting for Irish independence, to his most recent film, The Old Oak, set in an old mining community in the northeast of England where Syrian refugees are being homed. His films shine a light on real human stories and present us with a truthful document of how we live - the humour, the pain, the compassion, the loneliness and most consistently, the social injustices of working class lives. As Ken said in a 2016 documentary about his work, "if you say how the world is, that should be enough". Let's jump straight in, please welcome to Changes the legendary Ken Loach... How are you with change as a word? 

Ken [00:03:01] I think it's an essential word, really. It's necessary now more than ever when you consider the way the world is and the terrible things that are happening, some of them in our name. So I think change is erm, is essential and the question is, what changes? Who has the power to make them? And what's the path to change? 

Annie [00:03:26] Is it rude for me to ask how old you are? 

Ken [00:03:30] *Both giggling* No I'm umm erm, 87. 

Annie [00:03:32] You're 87. 

Ken [00:03:33] 88 this year. 

Annie [00:03:35] So you've been making films for over 50 years. What drives you to want to do that? What drives you to want to put these stories on film? 

Ken [00:03:43] I developed a love of the medium *Annie humms in curiosity*. So the first love was the theatre and performance and drama and language and the connection to the audience and the excitement of that. Then discovering cinema, really, as- as I was in it, which is an unlikely thing most people *Annie laughs* so I'm very lucky really, very lucky. 

Annie [00:04:08] And how, if at all, do you want the people watching your films to be changed upon watching them? 

Ken [00:04:17] Erm, I wouldn't set the ambition that high. I think, I think a film is- it's what, an hour and three quarters? And I think you want to say, look, what do you think of what's going on? Do you like these people? What do you think of their situation? What do you think of our situation? This is us, it isn't some other- people somewhere else, we're not anthropologists, this is- this is us. And does it leave you with a question? Might it make you angry? Might it make you sad? Might it- might you enjoy a good laugh together? Just consider who we are and why we are where we are. 

Annie [00:04:53] I mean, you say you- you kind of discovered cinema when you were in it, when you were kind of working within it, which is wonderful but are you able now to sit here and look back and see how making films changed you at all? Like, did it change you? 

Ken [00:05:07] Well, I think you- you evolve, you know, as a person, obviously. I mean, everyone evolves as they get older, I mean, depending on their experiences. I'm not sure it changes you, I think it's- it stresses other parts of your personality or it develops other parts, but it can only- it can only work *laughing* on what's there you know. 

Annie [00:05:28] When you film with your actors you film chronologically, is that correct? And you don't normally allow actors to see the full script beforehand. 

Ken [00:05:36] No, no that's right. It comes out of learning the difference between theatre acting and, and a performance on celluloid and, and how different they are and what different, what different qualities you need. And so then once you have realised that- well, definitely through my own mistakes in my case, then you have to think, well, how can I achieve that? And then you work out a process or you try different things and some things work and some things don't. You try that process and eventually you arrive assessing well, that works, that works, that works, that's how we'll do it. Writers are the core of the film, and the script is what you see on the finished film- is 90-95% what is in the script in words, but writing is also imagining the characters, imagining the the storyline. But it's the writers who- who find that initial group of characters and the, the conflict inherent in their, in their being together and how that conflict is worked through. So it's very- in some ways it's a very traditional shape of drama. That's what we film. So, but of course it should appear as though this has just happened in this moment. I mean, it's like- it's like a good pin is playing an impromptu. It's like he just sat down, she's just sat down at the piano, played a stupid impromptu, just imagining it at that moment and it's magical. --- note was written. 

Annie [00:07:17] Hmhm. Can we talk about your childhood change, please? And, what it was that you went through in terms of that big change as a child? 

Ken [00:07:28] Well, *stutters* I'm from a Midlands town, Nuneaton, which, an industrial town. It had been a mining area, and then it became a dormitory town for the car industry in Coventry, nearby. And, the big change for me, lucky me, was passing the 11 plus. The 11 plus was an exam that all kids sat. If you failed the 11 plus, and that was the word people used, if you failed it then you would leave school at 16, you would not go to higher education. You didn't have the chance to go to university. You didn't go into a sixth form. That was it. End of story. That was the path decided for you at age 11. 

Annie [00:08:19] And did you want to do that? Were you aware of university, was that something you wanted to do? 

Ken [00:08:23] I think- I think most of the kids were- we knew what was at stake. And, you know, different families had- put different values on it. But in Nuneaton, which was, I mean, largely a working class town, I mean, there wasn't a kind of notable middle class there. I think about 1 in 5 passed it, so it's 20%. So, I mean, that's tiny. I mean, I was in the grammar school and there was no- 60 boys a year, two form entry. And out of a population of what was it, 60, 70,000? And there was the equivalent girls school. And out of that, out of those 60 boys, I think about 9 or 10 or 11... 12 maybe stayed on in the sixth form, that's after 16. Most of them went into the sciences, and in the arts which was history, English literature, foreign language, there'll be three of us. 

Annie [00:09:21] Wow. 

Ken [00:09:21] Three of us. Three- three lads out of a town that size, studying those subjects. That is so destructive and that is so cruel. And thank God that ended. 

Annie [00:09:34] Were you aware at the time of, I suppose, of that sense of unfairness about it? 

Ken [00:09:41] I was a kid, I was 11- 

Annie [00:09:41] You were only 11 yeah, fair. 

Ken [00:09:42] I think you, you know, you breathe a sigh of relief and say, yeah, well God, thanks. 

Annie [00:09:47] *Laughs* Yeah. And did you feel like- were your parents happy that you were getting that? Was that something they wanted you- 

Ken [00:09:52] Oh yes. Yes. My my dad was from a mining family of- he's one of ten. Though apart from him, they all went down the pits and he was working in a machine tool factory and was a very astute, bright man, and when he was eight, he passed the exam to go to the grammar school. 

Annie [00:10:12] Yeah. 

Ken [00:10:13] And his mother said, you can't go. We can't afford the uniform. And he was- he was bitter about that all his life. 

Annie [00:10:21] That's so interesting. We had Zadie Smith, the writer on Changes, and she had the exact same story about her father, that he passed and he couldn't afford to go. 

Ken [00:10:30] No, and and he was- ahh he wasn't- he didn't parade it every day but there was a- a man his age who was a headmaster in the local school and my dad had been to the junior school with him, and he said 'I could beat him for maths any day of the week' *Annie laughs*. And he worked at- my dads working in the factory. He did quite well, I mean, in charge of maintenance and that meant, and this I learned from him, seven- he went in seven days a week and work dominated his life. And he was the perfect employee. I think he worked there 46 years and got 46 quid, and couldn't see the unfairness of that. And the clock, that's erm- *laughs* not the greatest clock *Annie laughs*. And then he was ill in the last few months before he was due to retire, was off work, first time in his life and he died two or three years later. And the pension should have come from the firm, stopped with him. 

Annie [00:11:29] What, so your mum never got anything after his death? 

Ken [00:11:32] Not from him. I mean, obviously she got the pension. I mean, I was doing quite well, so- 

Annie [00:11:36] Wow. 

Ken [00:11:36] I mean, you know, she was fine, that wasn't a problem but the sensible exploitation rankled with me more than it did with him. 

Annie [00:11:47] And did you have siblings, or were you an only child? 

Ken [00:11:49] No. My mother errr lost- they wanted more children, but she couldn't have more. And I remember one of the few times I saw my father cry was when in a hospital, when she had a miscarriage and I must have been about 6, I suppose. 6 or 7. And he wept. 

Annie [00:12:09] Did you feel the weights of, of your parents hopes for you? 

Ken [00:12:14] Well they weren't heavy about it. I mean my dad used to say you- I mean he was determined I would do my homework. You know, you didn't go out during the week, weekdays, you know, you did your homework. It was just a given. You know, it wasn't a bone of contention, it wasn't me saying I want to go- not at all. It was just a given. I came in, sat down, had my tea, went in the front room, did the homework. I mean, I didn't- I wasn't a swat really, I just did it. 

Annie [00:12:43] And you went up- you ended up going to Oxford University? 

Ken [00:12:46] Yes, after National service, really. 

Annie [00:12:48] Oh, yes! 

Ken [00:12:48] Two years in the RAF. 

Annie [00:12:49] So how were they? 

Ken [00:12:50] Well, I- it's a toss up where I learned more really, whether it's erm *Annie laughs*, a doctorate studying law or erm, or in the services. I mean, being in a -- with 21 other lads was an education in itself. 

Annie [00:13:05] I can imagine. What were you doing there? 

Ken [00:13:06] Well, *laughs* I learned to type and I was a typist, I typed equipment schedules for two years. Dug the garden with a fork, painted the colour black because it wasn't black enough. All the stupid things you had to do to learn to be obedient. 

Annie [00:13:22] Were you good at being obedient? 

Ken [00:13:25] Well, you just did what everyone was doing. I mean, because there were horror stories, that was just in the training. These are horror stories of- there's always somebody committed suicide in the week before you were there. I mean, it was an urban myth which they propagated to scare you. So that happened for two years. No you- you learned a lot, really, just about getting on with people. So that was good and then went to university to study law. *Laughing* but when it came to the law, my interests were elsewhere and developed a passion for the theatre. Spent my time probably doing two plays each term, being in the more directing and erm, scraped a degree. Going to Oxford as a, as a kid from a Midlands town was so revealing. 

Annie [00:14:15] How? 

Ken [00:14:15] It was still- this was 1957 I went up and it still had the smack of Brideshead Revisited *Annie laughs*, you know, the worthy, the erm, a lot of public schoolboys in the sports cars with the girlfriends coming from London at the weekend. It was something I became more aware of after I'd been there, in fact. 

Annie [00:14:37] Yeah. 

Ken [00:14:38] At the time there was just, hey, this is real wealth here. I've never seen this before. 

[00:14:44] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:14:54] You have cited your biggest adult changes as a period of time when you were working at the BBC in the 60s. Tell me about that period and why did it change you so much? 

Ken [00:15:04] Yes. First circuit of luck was passing the 11 plus. Second circle of luck, I got a job at the BBC on the directors training course. It didn't say anything about producing TV drama, it had one morning on what to do with your cameras. And a few months after that, I was doing live TV, a programme called Z cars that went out as you were making it. 

Annie [00:15:29] Wow. 

Ken [00:15:30] Into what, 12, 15 million homes? I mean, extraordinary. The art was not to get a camera in shot. Course I made mistakes. The regulars, they carried me really but I learned a huge amount. And then there was a new project being set up by a great producer called Sidney Newman, who came from ITV. And his idea and the producer he brought in called Jimmy MacTaggart. He wasn't particularly erm, political, but he, he loved tilting at the establishment. So the brief was contemporary drama, hour and a quarter long, straight after the 9:00 news. Prime time TV on a Wednesday. 

Annie [00:16:13] Wow! What a slot, yeah. 

Ken [00:16:13] Yeah, new writers, new directors, new ideas, new ways of looking at society. And what's happening at- new comedy's, new- and the writer's word was the main thing. There were no people above you saying, well, you can't say that, ooo you shouldn't say that or I don't like that, or it's got to follow this formula. None of that. It was extraordinary. Extraordinarily liberal. At a time when the arts were becoming more liberal, and it was a part of that, a part of that was the week that was, you know- and at the same time as we were doing that and rattling cages like mad and Clean Up TV was founded in response to some of the stuff we did *laughs*. 

Annie [00:17:03] Remind people what that is, Clean Up TV. 

Ken [00:17:05] Clean Up TV was puritanical Midlands housewife, err well a teacher --- patronise her which I don't want to do. She was a teacher and erm, called Mary Whitehouse. 

Annie [00:17:17] Oh, yeah. 

Ken [00:17:18] She erm, she she hated what we did because it was disrespectful. 

Annie [00:17:24] And can you give us an example of what you were doing that was so outrageous? 

Ken [00:17:28] Well, I- the thing that really got her going was a programme, a half filmed programme called- play called Up The Junction. 

Annie [00:17:36] Yes. 

Ken [00:17:37] Based on a book by Nell Dunn. And it was the lives of mainly three working class kids, girls in Battersea, which was then a very working class area in south London. And, one of the girls had a, had an illegal termination because it wasn't legal then, it was before the Abortion Act. She said, this is outrageous. You know you- condemned it, condemned the fact that they were, you know, boys and girls were getting at it, you know, I mean, there was nothing to see, but it was, it was in the air. She hated it. And then we did a film about homeless- families that have split up because they have nowhere to live, called Cathy Come Home. And she hated that as well. 

Annie [00:18:23] And that had a huge effect, it really opened a lot of people's eyes to the fact that, you know, normal, good intentioned, you know, good people in their eyes are able to get homeless, you know?  

Ken [00:18:34] Yes, exactly. And at the time, the, the council would, would house a mother and child in the most appalling conditions. I mean, like in, just in a, in a large, like, ex hospital ward, just in a, in a cubicle with curtains drawn around them, I mean no privacy. But they wouldn't, they wouldn't house the husbands. And so often husbands went elsewhere to look for work and then families often split up. It became a national event. I mean, there were only two channels, two and a half channels. And there was no catch up *laughing* or anything like that. So when it went out, half the country saw it. 

Annie [00:19:15] And, I mean, I was going to ask you about when you first noticed that the films you were making could actually create change, obviously within people's outlooks and perceptions of, of how we live, but also on a more tangible level, like what's the biggest change, I suppose, that has come about in terms of law or society, like as a result of your films? 

Ken [00:19:37] Well, it don't think it works quite like that. I think you contribute to a current of ideas or thoughts or- or need for change that is erm, that is already in the air. I mean, there was a movement being born against homelessness. Jeremy Sandford who wrote the piece, he knew them and I met them through him, and that was the people behind Shelter, and also Crisis began at the same time. So it was in the air. 

Annie [00:20:09] Yeah. 

Ken [00:20:09] They weren't formed because of Cathy Come Home, which is sometimes said, that would be unfair on them. They were connected, really. And so I think you can contribute to a, to an idea that is current. But the other big thing that happened alongside that and it's really important this, and this is also fundamental change, there was a new politics of the 60s. Because we'd all, well our little gang we'd, we joined the Labour Party, we'd leafleted for Harold Wilson after 13 years of conservative government. With Harold Wilson, he talked of the white heat of the, a new industrial Revolution, but nothing changed. Nothing changed in the property relationships between working class people and those who exploit them, and the new politics, the New Left arose, and the basis of it was we opposed both the capitalism of the West and the old Stalinist misappropriation of the communist socialist ideas in Russia by Stalin, which was then an oppressive dictatorship. We opposed both. And that idea and the ideas it contained, the basic idea was there is- and I think this is correct, and I think it's been borne out, there's a fundamental divide in society between those who sell their labour and those who exploit it. And it's an irreconcilable class conflict. That conflict is, is, is with us every day. It results in the gig economy. So when we think of the miners strike this year, 40 years, that was the absolute epitome of class division. 

Annie [00:22:07] Yeah, and that is at the root of so much of your work. 

Ken [00:22:10] Mmm I think, I think it's the fundamental truth of the way society has developed. 

Annie [00:22:14] When you decide to make a film, you know, with a writer about something like this, about a human story that is directly affected by these politics, is there a catharsis? Does it do something for you? Does it help you? Because we're all frustrated. You know, when you're frustrated about a world that you can't seem to change, you know, that's out of your control. 

Ken [00:22:35] I'm not aware of that if there is *laughs*. I mean, I think it's part of what you do. I mean, I think when we're- I mean, I've worked with Paul Laverty, the writer, for 30 years now, and before that with Jim Allen, who's a great writer, Barry Hines who wrote Kes. And erm, the writer is the centre of the film. You know, it's not the director. The writer begins with the blank sheet of paper. So I think it's really important I say that. So when people talk about my films I, I can never talk about my films. I love our films. 

Annie [00:23:06] I love what Paul said about erm, about his his stories which are- he talked about them being about the delicate surface of, of human lives, but then at the bottom of the iceberg are the big political questions and I really like that analogy *laughs*. 

Ken [00:23:20] Yeah, yeah. Well Paul's dead right. I think it's just exploring the nuances of how people are and the subtleties and the delicacy of their relationships. But you find stories that just illuminate the way the world is. 

Annie [00:23:36] I think the work though, with Paul, with the writers, with the whole team and the actual process, the day to day process of making these stories come alive must feel purposeful. 

Ken [00:23:49] Yes. Absolutely. 

Annie [00:23:51] Because they're meaningful. 

Ken [00:23:52] Well, I hope so. 

Annie [00:23:53] Yes. 

Ken [00:23:54] Yeah, absolutely. I hope they're purposeful. Yeah. 

[00:23:57] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:24:07] There was a period where you had, I think it was 12 years where you didn't get a lot of films sold. Can you tell me about that period and look, what happened? 

Ken [00:24:15] It was the 80s. I couldn't get anything. I couldn't, as they say, couldn't direct traffic *Annie laughs*. And then Thatcher came in 79, I couldn't get anything. I did one feature film, which was a good script, which I didn't do well. Then I did a whole series of documentaries and most of them were banned. It was straight political censorship. The major one was for Central TV, and they were about the role of trade union leaders, under Margaret Thatcher. And they just preceded the miners strike. As the subsidies were withdrawn from government a lot of factories closed, unemployment went up to over 3 million very quickly in a matter of months, year. Suddenly was mass unemployment. The trade union leaders did deals that sold jobs, basically. So they negotiated redundancy pay, they didn't negotiate the keeping the jobs. And they found the leaders were doing deals behind their back. Yet the public perception of union leaders was that they were demanding that their men go on strike and destroy the country. And it had been a continuing theme, who runs the country? Union barons or your elected government? The active acceptance of fact of the mass unemployment rather than fighting it I think was a key factor in enabling Thatcher to carry on. 

Annie [00:25:52] And so you made this documentary. 

Ken [00:25:54] Made four, series of four and they were all banned. 

Annie [00:25:56] God, that must be so demotivating when you put all that time and effort in. 

Ken [00:26:02] Mmmm. And we did a film about the miners strike for the South Bank show. Desperate to make a film about the strike, a documentary, tried everything, I'd have done a film about their allotments, a gardening programme *Annie laughs* but couldn't get anything! And it was a time of real creative development. Poems were written about the strike, and the miners wives wrote poems, and, songs were written and there'd be meetings to raise money and, it was a huge creative explosion. And some of it was doggerel but some of it was erm, were very touching, because they were based on real experience. Anyway, we made the film. The miners had written a lot about police brutality. The heads of London weekend television who I think we're going to- ITV said we're not sharing it. Why not? Well, we're not going to show the police hitting the miners. But that's live- that's footage. They're doing it. 

Annie [00:27:03] It's real, real footage. 

Ken [00:27:04] Yeah course it was. 

Annie [00:27:05] Yeah, yeah. 

Ken [00:27:06] Yeah, we're not showing it. We're not showing it. And erm they would not- and they said you got to take it out and I said, I'm not, we're not taking it out. That's the truth. And they refused to show it. And it went to a documentary festival in Italy later, and they- because it was under pressure I think they, they gave it the, you know, Jimmy Riddle Challenge Cup or whatever you *Annie laughing*, win on these events- 

Annie [00:27:33] There was so many back then! 

Ken [00:27:33] And yeah, we did very nice. And anyway, we came out with that and Melvyn Bragg, to his credit, I believe, spoke to Channel Four. They finally showed it a few weeks before the strike ended. 

Annie [00:27:46] God. 

Ken [00:27:46] By which time it was- it was, it had lost its strength. And erm, so it was, time after time, you know. 

Annie [00:27:55] And did you never feel like *sighs* like you might just go and make a big, cheesy film and make a load of dosh and, you know *laughs*, I'm sure you were offered stuff over the years, no? 

Ken [00:28:06] No, I mean, a friend of mine was doing commercials, he said come and make some. 

Annie [00:28:10] Yeah. 

Ken [00:28:11] And I hated it. Thank God I was hopeless at it. 

Annie [00:28:14] Yeah. 

Ken [00:28:14] So I- 

Annie [00:28:15] You did a few of them? 

Ken [00:28:16] It was that or leave the business. And I did 1 or 2. 

Annie [00:28:21] And when you look back at that time, I suppose, how do you feel about what you went through as a, as a creator? 

Ken [00:28:27] Well, I mean, you could place it politically because of this- the, the politics we learned in the 60s, you understood what was happening. You know, it wasn't personal against me, they didn't know me. 

Annie [00:28:40] Yeah. 

Ken [00:28:42] It was the outcome of that industrial struggle. And the ruling class is ruthless. 

Annie [00:28:48] But then it is personal because it's your livelihood and you have a family and you're trying to make- 

Ken [00:28:53] Yes, it has consequences, but I think you understand- you understand the ruthlessness of those exploits. 

Annie [00:29:03] In 2014, you announced your retirement *Ken laughing* after 50 years of making films, and then you came back! What changed? 

Ken [00:29:12] Well, it's a hard job to give up you know. 

Annie [00:29:16] *Laughs* how old were you? 79 or something? 

Ken [00:29:18] What was I in- erm- 

Annie [00:29:21] 2014 so that's what?

Ken [00:29:21] Yeah, 78, I suppose. Well, it's erm, it's a hard job to give up. It's a huge privilege. 

Annie [00:29:28] Yeah. 

Ken [00:29:29] To be able to tell stories with wonderful people around you and talented people. Gracious people, kind, supportive people. Good fun, all of a single aesthetic and that's really important. And to give that up is very hard. And, you know, as long as you can stand on your two feet *Annie laughs* and keep, keep you some *laughs* a few marbles out of the bunch in your brain, then, keep pedalling. And what was happening, again what has been happening over the last decade or so is, I mean, it has gotten more and more intense. I mean, we never had food banks when I was a kid, even after the war. In all the poverty of the- the- the desperation after the war, never had foodbanks. People never went hungry. You never saw people on the street begging apart from the odd albino until Thatcher came. Never saw, you know, people saying I'm hungry on the streets. And that was one of Thatcher's many gifts to us, hunger. And to see the level of poverty and the level of hunger- and that's a conscious decision by the, by the government- 

Annie [00:30:42] So- 

Ken [00:30:42] Because they know, by cutting benefits, by punishing people with nothing, they will be reduced to hunger. And that has got worse and worse and worse. 

Annie [00:30:53] So the Tory government came back in to go- like, around then. And you we're like, I've got to get back to work, lads. 

Ken [00:31:01] Well, it was irresistible. 

Annie [00:31:03] And you made three films. 

Ken [00:31:05] Yeah, yeah. 

Annie [00:31:06] Which you call a sort of a trilogy. 

Ken [00:31:08] Yeah. 

Annie [00:31:08] Yeah erm, of which the most recent came out last year, The Old Oak. 

Ken [00:31:13] Yeah. 

Annie [00:31:14] There's a line in that, J.G. Ballantine says to Yara, a Syrian refugee, "if the workers knew the power that they had, they could change the world. But we never did". 

Ken [00:31:24] Yeah. 

Annie [00:31:25] Thought that was very moving. 

Ken [00:31:26] Yes. I mean, a lot of the mi- this is what miners learned in that strike. They saw the potential power and they saw how they were outflanked. They saw how other unions refused to back them. The Labour leaders, Kinnock and Hattersley walked away, so the organised Labour is potentially very strong, but they hung the miners out to dry. 

Annie [00:31:53] How was it making these films in your 80s? 

Ken [00:31:57] Well, I mean it did get a bit harder *laughs* as you go along. You know, and, and the people are very supportive. And the thing is that I think energy is not, it's not a fixed, you know, you don't have a fixed amount, and you turn the tap on and it runs out. When you're working, you generate energy, you become more energetic. And when you stop, then you're run down, you know, it's like the battery runs down because you're- you're not plugged into something. But there comes a point where that- that won't work anymore. And I think, sadly I've reached that point. It's a, it's a hard decision to take. 

Annie [00:32:37] And are you sure that it's going to be your last? 

Ken [00:32:42] I can't see it at moment. It's been a tough winter, and I struggle to get up the stairs as you saw so *Annie laughs* and the worst thing is my eyes aren't the greatest. So anyway, but never say never. 

Annie [00:32:57] Yeah. And I can imagine, like, if you're not using your brain in that way to, to make films, I'm sure you'll replace it, you know, with other things because, you know, you don't want your brain, as I'm learning, as a 45 year old woman, stays the same age, it feels young! It never, it doesn't feel like it ages. So, I suppose, how do you stay- you know, like you say, your work generates energy. How do you still generate energy for yourself? 

Ken [00:33:22] Well, we're having a good conversat- well- 

Annie [00:33:24] Yeah, chats! 

Ken [00:33:24] *Laughing* a nice conversation now, really nice to talk to you *laughs* and erm, talked to some students yesterday. 

Annie [00:33:30] Nice. 

Ken [00:33:30] Great kids. I mean, there's lots to do. There's lots to do. Because the big ideas that need to change society. I mean, if we are to deal with climate change, for example, that these are global issues, we'd need a global authority. And yet you see the West undermining the United Nations all the time. And if they undermine the United Nations, we have no hope of dealing with climate change *Annie sighs*. And so that's fundamental. Putting back on the agenda the common ownership of a health service, at the moment we're spending how much on private health? The railways, chaos after privatisation. The water, we know the problems there with sewage and vast benefits to the directors and owners of the private water companies, and on and on and on. Council housing, proper housing planned, and all these big issues. Ending poverty, ending hunger. 

Annie [00:34:31] Have you ever considered going into politics? 

Ken [00:34:34] No, I haven't got the *laughs*, I think it- 

Annie [00:34:37] I wouldn't want to be a politician today. 

Ken [00:34:38] No, I wouldn't want to be a politician. It's a beguiling place joining that elite. And that's, I think, is what has been a problem. 

[00:34:45] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:34:50] You're in a situation now where you can look back, you have a remove, you have a distance from your work maybe more than you ever have before. Is there anything you would change? 

Ken [00:35:01] I'd have done it better *laughs*. 

Annie [00:35:02] You think? 

Ken [00:35:02] I don't know. I tend not to look back, really. 

Annie [00:35:06] Yeah. 

Ken [00:35:07] It's erm. 

Annie [00:35:08] I guessed that. 

Ken [00:35:09] No, I tend not to look back. There's a vanity in that somehow, you know. 

Annie [00:35:14] I wonder, like, when you get to being 80- 87 is it? *Ken humms in agreement* Like, when you look back, do the decades feel really- your measure of time, looking back is- 

Ken [00:35:23] It is in decades, actually. I mean, the 60s are very marked, the 70s are very marked, the 80s have- all of them were marked. I think from the 90s and since the turn of the, the century, that's been more continuous. 

Annie [00:35:43] For those who are listening, you are someone who has tried, maybe inadvertently, to- to change the way people think through your work. I suppose if you're listening and you feel overwhelmed by how the world is so unjust and unfair, I suppose what, in your opinion, can we do as individuals? 

Ken [00:36:04] Don't remain an individual, because whatever concerns you, you will find good people who share your concerns and they are organising, and they're talking, and they're arranging maybe meetings, maybe planning how to make an impact and how to promote good change that will make things better. And it cheers you up *Annie laughs*, it really cheers you up because the mass media present things as inevitable, but they're not inevitable. It's not inevitable that kids are going to go hungry. It's not inevitable that international law has to be ignored and people massacred in the way we're saying now. We can take control. And I think this is one thing, again, of the politics of the 60s, along with the essential conflict, the inevitable conflict, the element that can bring the change is the organised working class, because they are the ones who are suffering, exploited and invaded, colonised. And that's what the- those who profit from that exploitation fear. But work with others who hold your opinion and you are immediately stronger for it. 

Annie [00:37:27] And what about your own life, is there anything you would change in the life of Ken Loach? 

Ken [00:37:33] Well, yes. But no, I've been hugely lucky. I mean, I've had a very good marriage to Lesley and five wonderful children we had. And erm, ten grandchildren, and they're all terrific. Immensely proud of them all of course. So no, I wouldn't change any of that. 

Annie [00:37:55] I'm sure they're immensely proud of you, too. 

Ken [00:37:57] Oh, I don't know about that *Annie laughs*. Here's the old bugger out his- out of his soapbox again. 

Annie [00:38:04] Ken Loach, it's been such a pleasure to have time with you. Thank you. 

Ken [00:38:08] It's been a real pleasure to talk to you Annie too, all the best. 

Annie [00:38:13] And to you. If you enjoy Changes, please do rate, review and subscribe to the podcast. Share it with your friends and family, go on social media, tell everyone about it. Tag me Annie Macmanus, I always love to see how you react to these episodes, and it's just so helpful to be seen and to be shared by you lot so thank you so much if you do. There's a whole catalogue of episodes to listen to, if you have missed any at all go back and check 'em out and we'll be back next week. Changes is produced by Louise Mason with assistant production from Anna de Wolff Evans. See you next time!