The secret world of Whitehall – and other BBC Michael Cockerell gems


British Houses of Parliament
If you’ve missed them when they were originally broadcast, YouTube has a wealth of BBC political documentaries for you to watch at leisure.

I missed Michael Cockerell’s “The Secret World of Whitehall” when it was originally broadcast. All three programmes from the series are on YouTube in full:

Episode 1 – The Real Sir Humphrey – This looks at the role of the Cabinet Secretary, chronicling the historic evolution of the role through its various job holders.

Episode 2 – Behind the Black Door – Looks at how different Prime Ministers have organised Number Ten Downing Street in very different ways. At one extreme Harold Macmillan took quite a laid back approach, insisting on reading lots of Trollope. Many Prime Ministers have used the huge Cabinet Room as their office, giving a very presidential feel to the way they operate. At the other extreme, Gordon Brown sat at a desk within the office of his advisers and civil servants, with the 24 hour news channel blaring away on a large screen above them. Apparently, Gordon Brown and his advisers would regularly jump up and comment loudly on what was appearing on the news channel. Goodness knows how the man managed to think straight.

Episode 3 – The Network – This, to me, is by far the most fascinating of the triplet of programmes. It looks at the work of the Private Office in each government department. The programme describes how the civil servants working immediately for their minister act as their filter to the rest of the world, guiding their daily schedule, monitoring their activity and liaising with the rest of the Whitehall world. The programme then examines the power of the SPAD (Special Adviser).

I would add a note to say that the use of music in the “Secret World of Whitehall” series is superb. I particularly enjoyed the appearance of Alan Clark to the sound of Barry White singing, or more accurately, groaning, “I’m going to love you just a little more baby”.

Also available on YouTube are:

The Great Offices of State – Another Michael Cockerell opus. 1. The Dark Department (the Home Office). 2. Palace of Dreams (Foreign Office) 3. The Secret Treasury.

Inside the Commons (2015) (Quality questionable) Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3. Episode 4. Michael Cockerell again.

News from Number Ten.

How to be leader of the Opposition and Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary.

…and a profusion of other programmes which pop up on the right hand side as you search or watch those titles.

I should imagine these documentaries might be particularly valuable for students of politics, as well as regular anoraks.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in TV and film.
Advert

One Comment

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTom Harney 26th Sep - 10:30am
    Totally agree with expats. To me the party is still not facing reality. I am sure that the enthusiasts think they know what Liberal Democrat...
  • User Avatarnvelope2003 26th Sep - 10:19am
    Michael BG: Employers, including National and Local Government and state owned organisations, will not pay any more than they have to because that would require...
  • User Avatarnvelope2003 26th Sep - 9:42am
    David Raw: Asquith believed that giving women the vote would benefit the Conservatives and he was right up until recently. In the 21 years between...
  • User Avatarexpats 26th Sep - 9:42am
    Tahir Maher............Labour, Tory Leadership Vacuum.... Yet another article on other parties without any factual vision of our own. These 'disgruntled/disenfranchised voters' have shown no sign...
  • User AvatarDavid Becket 26th Sep - 9:11am
    Yes there is a Vacuum in the leadership of the Tory and Labour parties, but ours is no better. Consumed by Brexit we are asleep...
  • User Avatartheakes 26th Sep - 9:07am
    All history now and we are where we are, but if we had not gone into coalition and taken the hit in a second election...