Its easy to forget that before fronting the British war effort through most of World War II, Winston Churchill had spent the previous decade isolated in Parliament and in internal opposition to the Conservative party. Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years
dramatises this period in which the growing menace of Nazism in Germany was met with indifference, even fear by governments of the day who were more concerned with their survival than in serving those who had elected them. Churchill is perceptively played by Robert Hardy, confirming the image without falling into caricature. Visionary and obstinate by turns, he galvanises his supporters and enrages his enemies with a passion borne of conviction. A seasoned British cast includes Peter Barkworth as the amiable but ineffectual Stanley Baldwin, Eric Porter as the truly "out of time" Neville Chamberlain, Edward Woodward as the scheming Samuel Hoare and Nigel Havers as the tragically flawed Randolph Churchill. Martin Gilbert has done a persuasive job transforming his novel into a TV script, the scenes in the House of Commons having a gritty reality that makes compulsive viewing.
On the DVD: its a pity that the Southern Pictures production, first screened in 1981, has emerged so dimly in this incarnation. Has the master tape eroded so badly, or was it simply not available? However, its worth putting up with the technical defects to enjoy this historically informed and grippingly dramatic serial. --Richard Whitehouse
Episodes 3 and 4 of the critically acclaimed drama about the life of Winston Churchill (Robert Hardy) before he became Prime Minister. In episode 3, 'In High Places' Hitler declines a dinner invitation whilst Churchill is in Munich. Churchill returns to warn Britain of the Nazi party and is thrust into a full-blown campaign against the India Bill. Whilst in episode 4, 'A Menace in the House', much of Churchill's political efforts during 1934 are concentrated on the corruption in politics and especially Parliament. The Committee of Privileges is formed which sets out to investigate the India Office and its tight relationship with the Manchester cotton industry.