‘It was the wielding of the knife’: The Best Documentaries about Margaret Thatcher

It’s been four years since the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Regardless of her policies, whether you were on Sky News defending her memory, or at one of many parties celebrating her death, Thatcher continues to be one of the most fascinating political leaders of the twentieth century. We must now think of how to represent such a figure who divided opinion. If you are looking for an accurate, interesting and fair documentary on the ‘Iron Lady’, Here are some of the best:

Thatcher: The Downing Street Years (BBC2)

Adapted from her memoirs, this forensic analysis of her rise and fall from power offers a fascinating insight into Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister without the sycophancy demonstrated by The Daily Telegraph’s DVD documentary series. I found a copy by accident and never tire of its traditional tone. Produced just a few years after her departure, the anger and bitterness in Thatcher’s interviews is raw, and all key figures were interviewed in this excellent four-part piece.

Maggie and Me (Channel 4)

Known as ‘That Pinko’ by Dennis Thatcher, Jon Snow offers a funny, entertaining view of his time as a journalist covering Britain’s first female Prime Minister. Snow interviews several figures often ignored such as tabloid photographers and Thatcher’s Metropolitan Police minder. There’s even a demonstration of how a male impressionist imitated her voice for Spitting Image.

The Marketing of Margaret Thatcher (BBC Panorama)

This Panorama episode was made by the legendary Michael Cockerell and provides an interesting look at political spin in the 1980s when politicians started making use of PR and image. It reminds the viewer just how much has changed, and highlights the sharp contrast of strategy in the 1983 election between the then Labour Party and Conservatives.

What Thatcher Did Next (BBC Radio 4)

This radio documentary as it has a unique focus on Thatcher’s life after being ousted from Downing Street in her roll as the ‘backseat driver’ to John Major’s time as Prime Minister.


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