A new series of television documentaries to be broadcast next year to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the 1984-85 miners’ strike will aim to cast fresh light on many unanswered questions around troubling episodes during the year-long dispute.

Producers and researchers have been busy for months interviewing key figures in the National Union of Mineworkers and former insiders with knowledge of action taken by the National Coal Board, government departments and the Police.

Journalists who reported the strike are also likely to feature in what looks like being a long cast list of interviewees in as many six or possibly seven documentaries which have been commissioned from independent production companies by the BBC, Channel 4, and other tv services.

An in-depth analysis is promised of events surrounding the infamous “Battle of Orgreave” when 3,000 police in full riot gear challenged around 6,000 pickets outside the Orgreave coke depot near Rotherham.

This confrontation became one of the defining events of the dispute. Footage of strikers being charged by mounted police is regularly replayed when television news bulletins and programmes look back on the strike.

Before being interviewed I went back to my personal archive of scripts for BBC Radio, newspaper cuttings and the many documents which I copied during the various releases of cabinet records and Margaret Thatcher’s government papers.

One note which I looked at afresh was from the Department of Energy, dated 5 June 1984, which notified the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire that British Steel wanted to clear the remaining 8,000 tons of coke from Orgreave to Scunthorpe by road in the week commencing Monday 18 June – they very day when police on horseback chased the pickets and when the NUM President Arthur Scargill was injured. 

Police action needed to be “part of a carefully conceived and well executed operation” … “to minimise any opportunity for the NUM to claim a victory.” 

Another find during my research was picking myself out in the background in newspaper photographs taken outside the NUM’s headquarters in Sheffield on 8 March 1984 when the national executive voted 21-3 to support unofficial strikes already underway in the Yorkshire and Scottish coalfields.

At the forefront of a group of noisy pickets demanding support were miners from Polmaise in Stirlingshire who were into a second week of a strike against the closure of their pit – the first men to join what became the national strike.

Radio actuality I recorded that day is now with the production company working on a documentary that aims to tell the story of how the plucky Polmaise miners and their community fought valiantly to protect their pit and preserve their jobs. 

Such was their unity throughout the dispute that no pickets were ever needed outside the gates to their colliery – instead the Polmaise men travelled throughout the Scottish coalfield and much further afield urging fellow miners to support the NUM’s stand against pit closures.