Last Night’s TV – Into the Storm

by Lynn Connolly

into the storm

The BBC are of course supposed to use our money wisely and invest in things like good, solid, entertaining drama, and to give it its due, Into the Storm was very good value for our money.

Brendan Gleeson as Churchill was utterly convincing, and he’d clearly studied his subject closely; his portrayal encompassed the vocal inflections, the obstinacy and the tenacity of a man who was made “lonely” by peacetime.

Similarly, Bill Paterson as Clement Attlee did a marvellous job, though I felt he struggled at times to keep a lid on his heavy Scottish brogue, but perhaps that’s more because I expected throaty vowel sounds to issue forth from him.

One of my favourite actresses, Janet McTeer, played the part of Churchill’s wife Clemmie, and as usual, she didn’t disappoint. She portrayed the devotion of a wife who was at times sorely tried by her mulish husband to a tee. Not that I ever did meet the real Clementine of course, so I guess I’m basing my “to a tee” comment on Vanessa Redgrave’s Clemmie in The Gathering Storm.

Redgrave, I understand, got ‘tips’ on how to play Clemmie from Mary Soames, Churchill’s daughter, so given there was no hue and cry about her portrayal, we might assume it was rendered faithfully.

The quality of the acting did Hugh Whitemore’s writing justice, and in turn, his writing gave them the blueprint on which to create this fascinating story. And everything about the production was compelling; from sets to costumes to make-up. It all worked beautifully.

And the sadness of Churchill’s rejection in the general election was understatedly played by all, which only added value to the film. Nuance is often a sticky wicket to portray on-screen, and dramas that are able to parlay thought processes and emotion without resorting to yelling about it are a rare breed, and Into the Storm may count itself among their number.

Then of course, there were the famous speeches which again, in the hands of an actor less capable than Gleeson may have sounded parodied, but he had the tone and the pitch just right in order to re-deliver some of Churchill’s most famous orations.

If you missed Into the Storm, you can watch it on BBC’s iPlayer here, and there are far worse ways to spend an hour and a half.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.