Is Milton Keynes a soulless place or a utopian dream? It might be famous as the home of roundabouts and concrete cows, but it’s also one of the most ambitious experiments ever in social engineering.
The country’s most famous New Town is about to turn 50 and so (it just so happens) is the documentary maker Richard Macer, who grew up there.
This one off documentary brings the two of them back together as Macer (Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue) returns to the place he left at 18 and seeks to re-evaluate a town he always felt a bit embarrassed by.
These days MK has one of the fastest growing economies in the country and has huge approval ratings from the people who live there. But for many years it has been the butt of the nation’s jokes, seen only as a concrete jungle.
So, what’s the reality of Milton Keynes? Is there a chance that Macer might discover a different MK to the one he left behind?
Created in the late 60s as an overspill for the inner-city slums of London, the new city was a place of high ideals. People would live in a world that was green and spacious and where, according to the master plan, ‘no building would be taller than the tallest tree’.
Through the course of his journey Macer learns that, far from being dull and boring, MK was actually a place that attracted some of the best architects of their day. and now boasts the only listed shopping centre in the country.
To make the film, Macer moves back in with his mum and dad who still live in MK and have always loved it. Over the course of the next few months he meets with key contributors to the MK story: architects, artists and social workers – and pays a visit to his old school, which was revolutionary in the sense that all the classrooms were carpeted and you called the teachers by their first name.