TV Highlights

Churchill: When Britain Said No

BBC Two - 9pm

Who's in it?

Eminences and boffins including Max Hastings and Anthony Beevor looked into the fascinating aftermath of World War Two, and how a grateful nation suddenly turned its back on its inspirational leader.

In a nutshell

Winston Churchill is now so synonymous with Britain, and so widely beloved by experts and members of the public alike, that it may come as a surprise to learn that – having inspired the country to endure the darkest days of World War Two – he was promptly given the boot from Downing Street as soon as hostilities were over. Never mind our more recent general election result – that’s nothing compared to the shock Churchill and the Conservatives must have felt when they were ditched just weeks after beating the Nazis.

So, why did it happen? How could a nation which had rallied behind his V-for-victory sign so abruptly award Labour a landslide victory? Historians debate the point in this engrossing documentary, which is full of awkward home truths. Such as how Churchill wasn’t actually universally revered, and was even regarded as a bit of a buffoon by many ordinary folk (a bit like Boris today). We’ll also discover how he was regarded as a fine wartime leader, but not fit to repair a broken Britain. As expert Anthony Beevor says, he was “useless as a social reformer”. Ouch.

What's the verdict?

The vast majority of Churchill documentaries merely burnish his myth, so this more sober-eyed and analytical one will come as a refreshing alternative. And it also tells the crucial story of how the modern welfare state was born amid the rubble of the world’s worst ever conflict.

Record Churchill: When Britain Said No now on Virgin TV Anywhere

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07-07-2011