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Poster for United States release
|Written by||Peter Morgan|
|Directed by||Tom Hooper|
|Theme music composer||Rob Lane|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Running time||88 minutes|
|Original network||Channel 4|
|Original release||26 October 2006|
Longford is a 2006 British biographical crime drama television film directed by Tom Hooper and written by Peter Morgan. The film centres on Labour Party peer Lord Longford and his campaign for the parole of Moors Murderer Myra Hindley. It was produced by Granada Productions for Channel 4, in association with HBO, and stars Jim Broadbent and Samantha Morton. The film was first broadcast on Channel 4 on 26 October 2006 and was an Official Selection at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Broadbent won the British Academy Television Award for his role.
Longford and Hindley had both died by the time the film was made; Longford in August 2001 and Hindley in November 2002. Hindley's lover and accomplice Ian Brady, played by Andy Serkis, was still living at the time of release.
The film begins in 1987 when penal reform campaigner Lord Longford is invited by a radio host to discuss his new book Saints, with the radio host inviting listeners to call in and join in with the conversation about the new book. Instead, Longford finds himself being challenged by a man who berates him for campaigning for Myra Hindley's release from prison - particularly as she has recently confessed to another two killings which had remained unsolved for more than 20 years. Longford declines to talk about Hindley, as he had made it clear that he would not be discussing her on this particular program, and makes the same response when another caller questions whether he regrets having supporting Hindley for so long now that he knows she stayed silent about the two additional murders, and other facts about the case which Hindley had only recently revealed.
The story itself begins during the late 1960s (during the first premiership of Harold Wilson) at the House of Lords, with Lord Longford, a regular prison visitor, presiding over a reception for a number of ex-convicts whom he had visited and corresponded with when they were incarcerated. He receives a letter from one of the most notorious criminals in Britain, the Moors Murderer Myra Hindley, who is several years into her life sentence for taking part in the murder of three children with her boyfriend, Ian Brady.
When he visits her, she asks for books but also for him to arrange for her to meet Brady. Longford is shocked and tells her that it would be in her own best interests to have no contact with Brady, as it might harm any future chances of parole. Hindley seems equally shocked at the idea that she would ever be allowed parole. Longford then begins his campaign for Hindley to be paroled, acknowledging that her trial judge had felt that rehabilitation and the chance of eventual parole would be possible for Hindley once removed from the influence of Brady.
The question remains of whether Hindley is indeed reformed — for example, in her decision to convert to Longford's own Roman Catholic faith — or whether she is merely manipulating him and feigning her rehabilitation in an attempt to bring herself closer to release. Longford visits Brady twice; on both occasions, Brady tells him that she is manipulative and that he should turn his back on her, as she is only interested in winning release from prison and will do or say anything to boost her chances of eventually gaining parole.
Longford, driven by his deep religious belief that all people are ultimately good and can be reformed if they have sinned, decides to continue on his course, despite heavy criticism from the public, the tabloid media, politicians and even from his own family. His own wife advises him to find another cause to pursue for his family's good as well as his own, before eventually deciding to support his campaign for Hindley's parole.
In 1977, he appears on the very first episode of Brass Tacks, a current affairs programme, in which he takes part in a debate on the issue of whether Myra Hindley should be given parole. Longford argues that Hindley has repented and had merely acted as Brady's accomplice under duress, but is faced with an argument against Hindley's parole from Ann West (the mother of Moors Murders victim Lesley Ann Downey), who feels that Hindley should never be given parole, and vows to kill her if she is ever released. Ann West was at the centre of a campaign to ensure that Hindley was never released, and gave numerous newspaper and television interviews to argue against any suggestion of parole for Hindley, and on many occasions vowed to kill Hindley if she was ever set free. Ann West died in February 1999, shortly after Hindley's unsuccessful second appeal against a Home Office ruling to keep her in prison for the rest of her life. Longford often condemned the media - particularly The Sun newspaper - for their "exploitation" of Ann West.
In 1986, Hindley reveals that she and Brady were responsible for two further murders. She later helps police locate the body of one of the victims.
Even as Hindley's revelations spark yet more public hostility towards Longford, he remains loyal to Hindley in public and continues to back her campaign for release. This includes a radio interview regarding a book he has had published in the late 1980s, during which a number of callers berate Longford for his support of Myra Hindley - which he declines to comment upon. Longford finally agrees to discuss Hindley when the radio host questions him, but insists that he does not regret having supported Hindley and that his friendship with her has enriched his life.
Privately, he is depicted as being affected by doubts. He is last seen visiting her in prison in the late 1990s, by which time he is frail and in his nineties. Hindley, still in her fifties, is in a declining state of health.
As the film ends and just before the credits start to roll, we are informed that Longford died in August 2001, while Hindley did not win the parole for which she spent many years fighting. She remained imprisoned until her death in November 2002.
- Jim Broadbent as Lord Longford
- Samantha Morton as Myra Hindley
- Lindsay Duncan as Lady Elizabeth Longford
- Tam Dean Burn as Roy
- Robert Pugh as Harold Wilson
- Anton Rodgers as William Whitelaw
- Kate Miles as Rachel Pakenham
- Lee Boardman as Radio Talk Show Host
- Andy Serkis as Ian Brady
- Roy Barber as Father Kahle
- Alex Blake as Paddy Pakenham
Awards and nominations
|2007||Sundance Film Festival||Official Selection||Longford|
|2007||British Academy Television Awards||Best Actor||Jim Broadbent||Won|
|Best Single Drama||Longford||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Samantha Morton||Nominated|
|Craft Awards – Best Director||Tom Hooper||Nominated|
|Craft Awards – Best Writer||Peter Morgan||Won|
|2007||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Made for Television Movie||Longford||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie||Jim Broadbent||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie||Samantha Morton||Nominated|
|2008||Golden Globe Awards||Best Miniseries or Television Film||Longford||Won|
|Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film||Jim Broadbent||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Samantha Morton||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Andy Serkis||Nominated|