“Joshua Baker’s first-rate reportage will probably be the fairest trial that Shamima Begum ever receives in the British media”

The Shamima Begum Story

“Watching The Shamima Begum Story, Joshua Baker’s meticulous, grimly mesmerising 90-minute documentary, one thing was clear: Begum isn’t easy to like. Duh. This seems blindingly obvious for a person who joined an evil death cult and shrugged off seeing severed heads in bins. But even now when proclaiming ‘regret’, she has an unfortunate, smirky, evasive manner that does her no favours. I wondered if we could believe a word she said.”
Carol Midgley, The Times

“Film-maker Josh Baker put question after question to Begum, who had been instructed to direct all her answers straight into the camera. In all her years of being interviewed, Begum’s manner has remained the same: a mixture of insolence and vulnerability, with some of her statements carrying a ring of truth and others causing us to doubt her words. She now claims to feel shame and guilt, but it is impossible to gauge whether this is genuine.”
Anita Singh, The Telegraph

“Begum’s numerous interviews for this documentary and the BBC podcast that accompanies it have enabled her to develop a polished persona on camera. No longer the sullen, contemptuous teenager of her first encounters with journalists, she now dresses in Western clothes, with sunglasses perched on her head. But she cannot hide the remnants of that surly arrogance which made her despise Britain and her upbringing.”
Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail

“You might think that Begum has already paid a heavy enough price for her teenage wrong-headedness. Alternatively, you may think that she made her bed and must now lie in it – especially if such a fate were to deter any future would-be British jihadists. Either way, Joshua Baker’s first-rate reportage will probably be the fairest trial that Shamima Begum ever receives in the British media.”
Gerard Gilbert, The i

“Sensibly, Baker refuses to portray this outwardly quite ordinary, self-styled ‘Bethnal Green girl’ as simply some rabid monster, nor a straightforward case of a manipulated and trafficked innocent child, nor, indeed, anything in between. There are clearly nuances and uncertainties about her motivations and activities. Instead, Baker presents Begum and those who knew her in London and in Isis in their own words, letting us make up our own minds.”
Sean O’Grady, The Independent

Consent, Channel 4

“The subject matter is important, and shows addressing it should be required viewing for teenage boys and girls. This particular drama does feel very basic, though, painted in broad brush strokes to fit into its hour-long running time. The fact that most of these actors are older than school age takes away from the authenticity, as does the decision to have the cast act out their WhatsApp discussions. It feels stagey.”
Anita Singh, The Telegraph

“There is a fine line to walk here between understanding the root causes of male sexual violence and excusing wrong-doers. That Consent walks that line so well is down to playwright Emma Dennis-Edwards’ careful structuring and the performances of the young cast, particularly newcomer Tom Victor. He makes Archie believable as – simultaneously – a confused, fearful child and a dangerously self-pitying man.”
Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian

“Reeking of class resentment, it told the story of a scholarship girl from a black working-class home, who was raped at a party. The school closed ranks with the coke-snorting poshos, and her attacker was heading to Oxbridge until one rich boy, marginally less obnoxious than the rest, decided to give evidence. The whole thing felt like a bizarrely seedy information video for sixth formers. Almost unwatchable.”
Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail