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The Falklands Play (2002)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama, War  |  10 April 2002 (UK)
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Twenty years ago, Britain went to war to regain the Falkland Islands. The Falklands Play is a gripping account of how Margaret Thatcher's government handled the biggest crisis in British ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rt Hon Peter, 6th Baron Carrington KCMG MC (Foreign Secretary)
Jeremy Child ...
Sir Robert Armstrong (Cabinet Secretary)
Richard Luce MP (Minister of State, Foreign Office)
Clive Merrison ...
Peter Blythe ...
Rt Hon Sir Michael Havers QC MP (Attorney-General)
Jeremy Clyde ...
Sir Nicholas Henderson (HM Ambassador to the United States)
Shaughan Seymour ...
Adm. Sir Henry Leach (First Sea Lord)
Robin Fearn (Head of Falkland Islands Department, Foreign Office)
Jasper Jacob ...
John Wilkinson MP (Parliamentary Private Secretary to John Nott)
Tom Enders (US Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs)


Twenty years ago, Britain went to war to regain the Falkland Islands. The Falklands Play is a gripping account of how Margaret Thatcher's government handled the biggest crisis in British foreign affairs since Suez. It tells the story of how Argentina - an ally of the British - fought the Conservative government and invaded sovereign British territory. This play charts the backroom manoeuvrings between Thatcher's government and the military, between the British and the Americans, and the Americans and the Argentineans that led to a breakdown in diplomacy, to war and to Britain's eventual victory. Written by Alistair Jackson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War



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Release Date:

10 April 2002 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Originally commissioned by the BBC in 1987 but wasn't filmed until 2002. See more »


Alexander Haig: We are trying to de-escalise a war.
Margaret Thatcher: So am I. But you do not do it by appeasement. You increase its chances. You see this table? This was where Neville Chamberlain sat in 1938 when he spoke on the wireless about the Czechs as "far away people about whom we know nothing and with whom we have so little in common". Munich! Appeasement! A world war followed because of that irresponsible, woolly-minded, indecisive, slip-shod attitude and the deaths of 45 million people.
Tom Enders: The fact that we have to treat...
See more »


Featured in When TV Goes to War (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Not really much of a play; more of a whitewash.
27 July 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I hear that this play was not originally broadcast by the BBC either as: it was politically sensitive, or; it was simply not up to scratch. I would say there was validity to both propositions.

It is definitely politically sensitive material, and surely it was quite right that the original production was not broadcast in the run-up to what, if I remember correctly, was the 1987 General Election. The BBC had the utmost sense not to broadcast such an unbalanced, politically-slanted piece. One could understand such a play if it was written to sure up people's support for the State in a time of crisis, but inherently it was ready long after the Falklands conflict. One would expect a balanced, realistic perspective from such a play as this, but instead you get a whitewashing of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's character. In readings about her, from Hugo Young to Julian Critchley to any number of Cabinet colleagues, I can tell this is not the real Thatcher. True, the Falklands conflict may have shown her at her best, but this play is practically adulatory, portraying the "Great She Elephant" as a very balanced, pragmatic and acutely sensitive and emotional person. She was roundly not these things, and indeed, a cursory reading of the Falklands saga shows she was at odds with many of the people involved, not just the odd stray American who doesn't quite grasp the situation.

One clearly gets the sense, with use of archive news reports and the general slanted tone, that the writer had no personal experience of what went on within the higher echelons of British Government at the time. That is not to say, of course, that someone like this shouldn't be allowed to write a play about the Falklands; just that they should have tried to craft a drama with far more adherence to what really happened. Thinking about it, this drama really is lacking in dramatics. Where is the real insight as to Thatcher's tensions with Messrs. Carrington and Pym? A capable, veteran cast of British stalwarts act it out reasonably, but it does no good really. Patricia Hodge does a good job at acting a Prime Minister who really is no Margaret Thatcher. She does not attempt to capture virtually any of the mannerisms or tones of Thatcher. An ill-advised performance, but surely the result of Curteis' slanted perspective. It really could be a Party Political Broadcast for the Right Hon. Member for Finchley and the Conservative Government of the time. The handling of the historical sequence of events is plodding and really quite banal. And what to say about certain political figures' portrayal? A Denis Healey who looks absolutely nothing like him, a Ronald Reagan who is sent up as a hapless, clueless charlatan. Well, maybe there's some validity to *that*...!

So, certainly a mistaken choice for BBC4 to revive this project, a project that frankly had little merit; the original decision on it was quite justified on both counts.

Rating:- **/*****

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