Made in the wake of the 1959 Notting Hill riots, Flame in the Streets is an early examination of tense racial prejudices within a working-class family.
Adapted by Ted Willis from his own stage play Hot Summer Night, it had already been produced for television in 1959 for Armchair Theatre.
Director Roy Ward Baker makes no allowances for liberal sensibilities and pulls few punches in delivering what he himself termed “a harsh picture”.
Baker elicits a stirring performance from Brenda De Banzie, whose transformation from typical housewife and mother to snarling racist is the centrepiece of the drama.
Jacko Palmer (John Mills), a liberal-minded trade unionist, fights racial discrimination in a London furniture factory and averts a threatened strike over the appointment of West Indian Gomez (Earl Cameron) to shop steward, but has to face up to his own deeper prejudices when his daughter (Sylvia Syms) falls in love with a Jamaican teacher.
The couple plan on marrying, which creates havoc in the Palmer household where Kathie’s racist mother Nell (De Banzie) throws a fit.
Meanwhile, the streets of London are infused with racial tension as Teddy Boys confront the West Indian immigrants on an intense Guy Fawkes night.
Brenda De Banzie
Roy Ward Baker