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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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Title: The Falklands Play (TV Movie 2002)

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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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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

Historically false events in a generally good drama.
12 June 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I think there were serious omissions from the historical truth.

As noted by a reviewer above, Thatcher's political position was very weak at the time. She was seen by the country and many of her "wet" cabinet ministers as being a right wing liability who would sink the Tories at the next election because she had worsened, not improved, Britain's economy. Unemployment had sky-rocketed.

The decision to withdraw HMS Endeavour from the South Atlantic (the supply ship for the Falklands) was made by her right wing Defence Minister John Nott on grounds of cost- cutting. Both the Foreign Office under Carrington and I believe the Chiefs of Staff and the Intelligence Services opposed it on the grounds that the Argentinians would interpret the withdrawal as a sign that the UK was not serious about maintaining its Falklands colony and this would greatly encourage them to invade. Thatcher overruled them and backed Nott. She therefore had direct responsibility for this mistaken decision and should, on the Argentinian invasion, have resigned.

This was known at the time of the Saturday House of Commons debate by many people, especially on the Conservative back benches. There was great unease on them, and talk of replacing her. What saved her probably was Michael Foot's highly patriotic support of her in his speech and the fact that the debate only lasted 4 hours rather than the more usual 8. (Clever work probably by the Whips). If it had been 8, it is very likely that this unease about Thatcher would have surfaced from both wets and right wingers who suspected she was an incompetent woman who had blundered into a war.

Then, had she been replaced - probably by a wet ("wets" by and large were of an older generation than the supporters of Thatcher and had fought in the 2nd War and would have been thought "reliable" to fight another war) - the war would have gone ahead, Britain would again probably have won, and a "wet" rather than Thatcher would have been in charge of Britain and subsequent history would have been radically different. But it is through ironies like this that history operates. As it was, it was those who had been originally been right on "Endeavour" who were forced to resign like Carrington, and Thatcher, the British politician (along with Nott) most responsible for allowing the war to break out, the person who went on to be lionised as a great Churchillian war leader.

The Saturday Commons debate was the great turning point. Curteis presents the debate falsely as a straight patriotic piece of Churchillian stiff upper-lip tub thumping. (This is understandable, the Left had been and was caricaturing Thatcher mercilessly in their propaganda and Curteis's play is his right-wing propaganda blast back). But it would have been far more interesting - and dramatic - to go for neither villains or heroes, but what history really consists of - human beings. And by showing complexities and ironies, rather than pieties and propaganda.

4 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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