Pete Postlethwaite was heavily criticized by ex-miners for claiming he supported the 1984 strike, but believed people should never burn coal. The last remaining coal mines in the UK closed largely as a result of the 2008 Climate Change Act.
Nearly twice as many coal mines closed during the two premierships of Harold Wilson (1964-70, 1974-76) than during Margaret Thatcher's premiership. More than 290 coal mines closed under Wilson, compared to about 160 under Thatcher.
Unlike the other actors in the movie, Ewan McGregor knows how to play an instrument. He played the French horn when he was younger, which is an instrument with similar pitch to the Eb tenor horn his characters plays in the movie.
The film was set during a period in the early 1990s when the miners put up very little resistance to a wave of pit closures, in contrast to the year-long strike undertaken in 1984-85. This demoralization of the militant miners was the basis behind the idea of being "brassed off".
In a Yorkshire mining community (as portrayed in the film), the word "scab" is a very serious insult. Rather than refer narrowly to strikebreakers, it can also refer to traitors to the working class in general, which is the sense used in this film. Militant miners would often refuse to speak to those considered "scabs".
The character of Danny Ormondroyd (Pete Postlethwaite), the conductor of the Grimley Colliery Band, was based on Ken Hirst, the real-life secretary of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band for many years. Much of the filming was done in and around Grimethorpe Colliery and players in the Grimethorpe band doubled as players in the fictitious Grimley band.
Commonly understood to be based on Grimethorpe Colliery Band, the fictional pit village of Grimley is actually an amalgamation of two neighboring South Yorkshire pit villages: Grimethorpe and Frickley. Both have internationally known brass bands. Frickley pit closed in 1993, a year after Grimethorpe.
Phil's character of Mr. Chuckles is similar to that of Pickles the Clown - a miner from Denby Grange Colliery in Yorkshire who became known during the 1984-5 strike for entertaining miners' children whilst their fathers were striking.
During the ballot scene, it is very briefly shown that Andy votes for the pit to go to the review procedure and does not vote for redundancy. As the ballot paper is upside down, the film needs to be paused for this to be clearly visible.
The camp by the mine-workers' wives outside the pit gates was based on a real camp by miners' wives outside Grimethorpe Colliery in 1992 and other nearby pits. The wives were actually more active than the mine-workers during this period. At the same time, many embittered miners were singing "Shut the pit!" to the tune of "The Stars and Stripes Forever".