1 user

Synth Britannia (2009)

Following a generation of post-punk musicians who went to form successful electronic bands in the 70s and 80s and had a profound impact on present day music.


(as Ben Whalley)


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

BBC 4 documentary about 1970s German progressive music.

Director: Benjamin Whalley
Stars: Amon Düül II, David Bowie, Can
Early Summer (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A family chooses a match for their daughter Noriko, but she, surprisingly, has her own plans.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu
Stars: Setsuko Hara, Chishû Ryû, Chikage Awashima
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

In the summer of 2006, Sigur Rós returned home to play a series of free, unannounced concerts for the people of Iceland. This film documents their already legendary tour with intimate ... See full summary »

Director: Dean DeBlois
Stars: Amiina, Hildur Arsaelsdottir, Jon Thor Birgisson
Umberto D. (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

An elderly man and his dog struggle to survive on his government pension in Rome.

Director: Vittorio De Sica
Stars: Carlo Battisti, Maria Pia Casilio, Lina Gennari
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A young priest taking over the parish at Ambricourt tries to fulfill his duties even as he fights a mysterious stomach ailment.

Director: Robert Bresson
Stars: Claude Laydu, Nicole Ladmiral, Jean Riveyre
Toni Erdmann (2016)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A practical joking father tries to reconnect with his hard working daughter by creating an outrageous alter ego and posing as her CEO's life coach.

Director: Maren Ade
Stars: Sandra Hüller, Peter Simonischek, Michael Wittenborn
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Music, art and chaos in the wild West-Berlin of the 1980s. The walled-in city became the creative melting pot for sub- and pop-culture. Before the iron curtain fell, everything and anything... See full summary »

Directors: Jörg A. Hoppe, Heiko Lange, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Andi, Bela B., Blixa Bargeld
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

From secret Parisian parties to Berlin's infamous Berghain club, Paris/Berlin documents the underground movement of techno through the lens of two different cities. This 52 minute ... See full summary »

Director: Amélie Ravalec
Stars: Laurent Garnier
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Soundbreaking explores the history of recorded music. Featuring more than 150 original interviews, the series charts a century's worth of innovation and experimentation, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of brand new sounds.

Stars: Dermot Mulroney, Todd Boyd, Ahmir-Khalib Thompson
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The story of the relationship between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his people, and two scientists who work together over the course of forty years to search the Amazon for a sacred healing plant.

Director: Ciro Guerra
Stars: Nilbio Torres, Jan Bijvoet, Antonio Bolivar
Pump Up the Volume (TV Series 2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

In this documentary the origin of house music is being explained. It starts in Chicago in the "Warehouse" club. This later became the Genre called just "House" because people wanted to buy ... See full summary »

Stars: Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy, Marshall Jefferson


Credited cast:
... Himself
... Himself
Richard H. Kirk ... Himself
... Herself
... Himself
Phil Oakey ... Himself
... Himself
... Himself


Following a generation of post-punk musicians who went to form successful electronic bands in the 70s and 80s and had a profound impact on present day music.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Documentary | Music



Official Sites:

BBC [UK] | Official site



Release Date:

16 October 2009 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Synth Britannia at the BBC  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs



See  »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Brilliantly executed music doc from the BBC
9 June 2016 | by See all my reviews

BBC4 has a bit of a reputation for making extremely good music documentaries. A varied array of artists and genres have been covered in entertaining and informative ways. With this high standard in mind I have to say that Synth Britannia may very well be my favourite of the lot. It's not that I am a rabid fan of synth pop – I enjoy it and think it has considerable merit but am certainly no fanatic of it. But I felt this film simply tells us about this subject in a manner that makes it extremely interesting. So interesting it turned out that I immediately went out and bought an extensive compilation of synth-based pop from the 80's. You know a music doc has been successful when it makes you seek out more music.

It starts in the early 70's with the advent of experimental electronic music, exemplified by the likes of the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange by Walter Carlos. This bit of hugely influential music was pretty ground-breaking in 1971 and created a soundscape using electronic music that was both sterile, haunting and ominous; which of course perfectly sound-tracked Stanley Kubrick's dark film. The next major happening was the emergence of the West German band Kraftwerk who were for many the true progenitors of electronic pop music. Throw in punk music with its DIY approach and the availability of cheap synthesizers to the public and there was a scenario for the first time where electronic based music could flourish. From this, many synth pop groups emerged. The movement began as resolutely uncommercial, with some acts being practically avant-garde in approach. As the genre developed more and more acts began to make an impact on the charts and synthesizers soon became inextricably linked with the new wave. By the mid 80's it had become overly commercialised and began to become irrelevant but in its time it produced some commendably forward looking music which genuinely was new music in the truest sense.

There are many reasons why this documentary is excellent. For one, the musicians interviewed seem to be more intelligent than you normally get. In fact, a considerable number of them seem quite bookish. This leads onto a further strength of the film in that it links in the influence of the novels of J. G. Ballard whose strange form of contemporary urban psychological sci-fi provided a massive source of material for many of the bands. The late 70's synth music in particular synthesized Ballard's bizarre ideas into a musical form which seemed to suit it perfectly. These bleak sounds were a perfect accompaniment to the concrete high-rises of a Britain at the time which was going through many social problems and ills. But in another way, this shows the genesis for what would go on to be electronica and dance music which would begin to rise to prominence in the late 80's and beyond. The influence of synth pop is therefore pretty incontestable and this documentary very successfully tells its story in a logical manner which covers all of the big hitters of the time. This is the definitive documentary on this subject and is recommended to all music fans; even if you are not a fan of synth pop this is still a great watch.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See one user review »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial