Radio 4 is to broadcast Enoch Powell's infamous 1968 "rivers of blood" speech in full for the first time this Saturday, to mark the 50th anniversary of the far-right politician's controversial address.
The speech, in which Powell attacked the anti-discrimination Race Relations Bill, and predicted that increased immigration to the UK would mean that "in 15 or 20 years' time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man", will be broadcast as part of the channel's Archive on 4 series.
As no complete recording exists of Powell delivering the speech, it will be recited by Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid, who recently played Powell in a stage-play about the Conservative minister's life. Speaking to The Telegraph, McDiarmid said he had initially dismissed Powell as a "horrible racist", but was impressed by his "intellectual rigour" after learning more about his life.
The decision to broadcast the speech in full has sharply divided audiences on social media. Many have criticised it as insensitive, while others have defended its educational value.
Lord Adonis, the former Labour government minister, suggested that there was no "public service" value in broadcasting the speech.
BBC media editor Amol Rajan – who will discuss the speech as part of the broadcast – urged listeners to tune in, praising the programme's "super-brain" producers for doing "an amazing production job". Mocking his comments, one social media user wrote: "It's mein kampf, sure, but look at the production quality".
The Archive on 4 documentary is one of a number of BBC broadcasts marking the anniversary of the speech. Journalist Sathnam Sanghera, who will present a radio documentary about the surrounding political context in Wolferhampton, wrote on Twitter: "Was Enoch right? The question will return over next week [...] to answer it, you need to understand what was happening in his constituency at time within Sikh community."