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The Falklands Play (2002)

Not Rated | | Drama, War | TV Movie 10 April 2002
On April 2, 1982, 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)
Rt Hon William Whitelaw CH MC MP (Home Secretary)
Rt Hon Nicholas Ridley MP (Financial Secretary to the Treasury)
Rt Hon Francis Pym MC MP (Lord President of the Council / Foreign Secretary)
Sir Robert Armstrong (Cabinet Secretary)
Richard Luce MP (Minister of State, Foreign Office)
Rt Hon John Nott MP (Secretary of State for Defence)
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)


On April 2, 1982, 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 the Falklands. This play charts the backroom maneuverings between Thatcher's government and the military, between the British and the Americans, and the Americans and the Argentines that led to a breakdown in diplomacy, to war and to Britain's eventual victory. Written by Alistair Jackson <ajackson@msn.com>

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Drama | War


Not Rated


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Release Date:

10 April 2002 (UK)  »

Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Author Ian Curteis complained in the 1980s that the BBC had refused to turn his script into an actual TV play because it was pro-Thatcher. His script was published at the time, but it wasn't until 2002 that it was, with some changes, filmed for transmission. 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...
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Featured in When TV Goes to War (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

How Wars Start.
25 July 2016 | by See all my reviews

A brief war was fought in 1982 over the sovereignty of a few small barren islands in the icy southern pacific. The combatants were Argentina, which had invaded the Falklands, and Britain, which had ruled since 1832.

Britain won the little but costly war and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher emerged he winner. She was a hard charger and much admired for it. Of course if the victory had been the other way round, a lot of people would be dead for little reason and she would be thrashed. As it was, there was no stopping her in her determination. One American consultant muses, "I wish there were more like her. You always know exactly where you stand." "In the corner," replies another.

There is very little footage of the war itself. The script seems to jump from the landings of the British SAS to the surrender of the Argentinian soldiers. But that's okay because this is, after all, a play, not a big budget feature film. Besides, the general outline of the war's progress is already familiar to some viewers, although by no means all of them. Anyone interested in the engagements should be directed to the concise documentary, "20th-Century battlefields: 1982 The Falkland Islands War." It can be viewed free on YouTube.

The script has sufficient continuity so that we can follow events as they unfold, even though we're confined mostly to a few rooms and a handful of other sets. As Thatcher, Patricia Hodge is quite good, if lacking in heft. And there isn't a dull bulb among the supporting actors. There are a few moments of humor. Someone tells the Defence Minister, Clive Merrison, that this is the first time a British fleet has set sail for an attack since Suez. Merrison replies slowly and deliberately. "Can we keep Suez out of this conversation? Those are two little words that -- irk." The well-meaning Americans provide some ludic relief as well. Thatcher invites the American consultants to dinner and takes aside Alexander Haig, the Defense Secretary before they sit down. Thatcher shows him a large painting of two men -- the Duke of Wellington and Lord Nelson, saying that they were two heroes who put an end to willful aggression by dictators. "I thought you might want to look at them during dinner." Haig mutters into his drink, "Gee, thanks."

The role of the Americans is that of a nation full of good will, anxious to avoid bloodshed, and apparently oblivious to the fact that Argentina is under the thumb of a brutal military junta who has invaded the Falklands -- which they (still) insist on calling Las Malvinas -- in order to distract the population from the catastrophic conditions at home. Haig is a good guy, although ineffective. President Reagan's attitude was that "both of them are our friends," even after the British ambassador reminds him that Britain didn't hesitate for a moment to aid in the extraction of 52 hostages after the embassy takeover in Iran.

Reagan apparently listened less to Haig than to his UN ambassador, Jeanne Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick was a pragmatic and ardent anti-communist. As Wikipedia puts it, "She was known for the "Kirkpatrick Doctrine", which advocated supporting authoritarian regimes around the world if they went along with Washington's aims. She believed that they could be led into democracy by example." Argentina fell into that category.

Reagan himself thought it a minor matter, calling them "bleak little islands" and never quite remembering their name. After the British victory, Reagan called on Thatcher to be "magnanimous," and Thatcher blew him off. By the time the war had begun, however, the US came around and placed an embargo on shipments to Argentina and agreed to supply Britain with whatever materiél it required.

Whatever else this fine program does, it illustrates the way that democracy is supposed to work, and of course it will be informative to those whose memories don't extend very far into history.

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