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Churchill's Secret (2016)

British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (Sir Michael Gambon) suffers from a stroke in the summer of 1953, which is consequently kept a secret from the rest of the world.


Charles Sturridge


Jonathan Smith (based on the novel "The Churchill Secret - KBO" by), Stewart Harcourt (screenplay)
6 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Gambon ... Winston Churchill
Romola Garai ... Nurse Appleyard
Lindsay Duncan ... Clemmie Churchill
Daisy Lewis ... Mary
Matilda Sturridge Matilda Sturridge ... Rosie
Peter Agnelli ... De Gasperi (as Peter Brown)
Patrick Kennedy ... Jock Colville
Christian McKay ... Christopher Soames
Chris Larkin ... Rab Butler
Bill Paterson ... Lord Moran
Ian Mercer ... Sgt Murray
Matthew Marsh ... Lord Beaverbrook
John Standing ... Lord Camrose
James Wilby ... Brendan Bracken
Tara Fitzgerald ... Diana


In June 1953, two years after he was re-elected as Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill (Sir Michael Gambon) collapses following a dinner party at 10 Downing Street. Diagnosed by Dr. Lord Moran (Bill Paterson) as having a stroke, there are fears that he may not survive, and he is taken to his country home Chartwell. Publicly, he is said to be suffering from exhaustion, and the newspaper owners consent to printing the deception. As his children arrive to watch over him, they feud over son Randolph's (Matthew Macfadyen's) drinking and daughter Sarah's (Rachael Stirling's) less than illustrious movie career, while Winston's wife Clemmie (Lindsay Duncan) reflects on the loss of another daughter who died in infancy. The Cabinet is informed of events as Moran brings in plain-spoken Yorkshire nurse Millie Appleyard (Romola Garai) to look after the great man. With her help and his wife's devotion, Churchill survives to address the Conservative Party conference later in the year, before ... Written by don @ minifie-1

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Did You Know?


Nurse Appleyard has a sailing ticket for the "Rangitoto", a liner of the New Zealand Shipping Company which sailed from London to New Zealand via Panama. The company's ships did not serve Australia and so would hardly be a choice for somebody who was emigrating there. See more »


[Clemmie wants Winston to retire from being PM, and to spend his time at Chartwell. He is determined to continue, despite his stroke. His immediate aim is to attend the Conservative Party conference in Margate. Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden has just visited, expecting Winston to announce his resignation]
Clemmie Churchill: I thought Anthony was looking well... if a bit thin.
Winston Churchill: Clemmie, if I'm wrong and I can't get through Margate, then I'm all yours. That's my promise. If I fall, there's nowhere I want to fall ...
See more »


Featured in Too Much TV: Episode #1.1 (2016) See more »


I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles
Written by James Kendis, James Brockman and Nat Vincent
Performed by Michael Gambon
See more »

User Reviews

Poor secret
2 March 2016 | by LejinkSee all my reviews

Having recently read biographies of Rab Butler, Harold MacMillan and Anthony Eden, I had a degree of foreknowledge about the events depicted in this ITV drama. Did I then or now think it warranted a two hour drama, well, no I didn't and having watched it, I think so even less. I looked forward to a behind-the-scenes insight into the political machinations of the time, which saw the news of the P.M.'s stroke blacked out by the media while he made a slow recovery from his illness. In the wings was his long-time second-in-command, Anthony Eden, itching to get into number 10, but, by an unfortunate coincidence, he was also also a recovering invalid from a botched operation carried out abroad.

All I got here though was about two thirds of the time devoted to the Churchill family dynamics as three very different daughters and one hard-drinking son converge on the Churchill country house in Chartwell, with the other third dealing more with the politics culminating in Churchill recovering sufficiently to deliver his party leader speech at the Conservative Party Conference at Margate in 1953.

I found the inter-family drama to be boring and uninteresting. The very obvious point is made that Churchill's personality dominated those of his wife and children as they unattractively find ways to bicker amongst themselves even as their father fights death in the same house. As for the political background, Rab Butler is dismissed as a non-entity, Anthony Eden appears only fleetingly and Harold MacMillan doesn't show at all. Just when you think you're being served up a family melodrama, the film does an abrupt about turn to focus on Churchill's return to health and political action.

What we also get is the creation of a fictitious nurse who is brought in to provide special care for the great man and predictably becomes a lightning rod between the sometimes difficult relationship of Churchill and his wife Clementine. As a device, I found it an unnecessary distraction. There's also a lot of questionable guff floating about too as the ailing P.M. recalls childhood memories in his distracted state concerning the early death of an infant girl-friend which causes him to sing "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" on occasion.

I wasn't impressed with the acting either. Martin Gambon looks nothing like Churchill, a difference highlighted all the more as a portrait of the real Winston is for some reason prominently displayed in some scenes and besides barely tries to reproduce his master's distinctive voice. Lindsay Duncan is similarly unconvincing as the wife / matriarch figure Clemmy Churchill and acts like she's permanently sitting on a very sharp pin, while Nurse Appleyard could have walked off the set of "Call The Midwife" so stereotypical is her character. Did I mention the (in)action was slow and ponderous too?

This was thin fare in my opinion and added little to my insight of either the 1950's political situation, the internal workings of the Churchill family or the character of a great man in decline.

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Release Date:

11 September 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Churchill's Secret See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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