Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years

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Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years
Picture of Robert Hardy as Winston Churchill from DVD cover
DVD cover art
Genre Drama
Written by Ferdinand Fairfax, William Humble
Directed by Ferdinand Fairfax
Starring Robert Hardy
Siân Phillips
Nigel Havers
Tim Pigott-Smith
Eric Porter
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 8
Executive producer(s) Mark Shivas
Producer(s) Richard Broke
Production company(s) Southern Television
Original network ITV
Original release 6 September (1981-09-06) – 25 October 1981 (1981-10-25)

Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years is an 8-part 1981 drama serial based on the life of Winston Churchill, and particularly his years in enforced exile from political position during the 1920s and 1930s. It was made by Southern Television on a budget of £3¼ million and originally broadcast on ITV on Sunday nights at 10 pm.[1] It was written and directed by Ferdinand Fairfax, with historian Martin Gilbert as co-writer. Churchill was played by Robert Hardy.


Episode Title Original air date
1 "Down and Out" 6 September 1981 (1981-09-06)
Churchill resigns as Chancellor of the Exchequer after the Conservative Party under the leadership of Stanley Baldwin loses the 1929 election. He travels to the United States in an attempt to make some money. He meets with William_Randolph_Hearst and Bernard Baruch. He loses his earnings, however, in the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Meanwhile, back at home, the Prime Minister and Baldwin plan to introduce democracy to India.
2 "Politics Are Foul" 13 September 1981 (1981-09-13)
3 "In High Places" 20 September 1981 (1981-09-20)
4 "A Menace in The House" 27 September 1981 (1981-09-27)
5 "The Flying Peril" 4 October 1981 (1981-10-04)
6 "His Own Funeral" 11 October 1981 (1981-10-11)
7 "The Long Tide of Surrender" 18 October 1981 (1981-10-18)
8 "What Price Churchill" 25 October 1981 (1981-10-25)



Hardy's performance as Churchill won critical acclaim and a BAFTA nomination in 1982. Eric Porter as Neville Chamberlain also received praise. The series was nominated for a total of 8 BAFTA awards, namely:

  • Best Actor (Robert Hardy)
  • Best Costume Design (Evangeline Harrison)
  • Best Design (Roger Murray-Leach)
  • Best Drama Series (Richard Broke/Ferdinand Fairfax)
  • Best Film Cameraman (Norman G. Langley)
  • Best Film Editor (Lesley Walker)
  • Best Make Up (Christine Beveridge/Mary Hillman)
  • Best Original Television Music (Carl Davis)


Hardy also portrayed Churchill in The Sittaford Mystery, Bomber Harris and War and Remembrance and at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the end of World War II in 1995 when he quoted a number of Churchill's wartime speeches in character.


  1. ^ 'Pick of the week's television', The Times (London, 4 Sept. 1981), xii.

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