Margaret On BBC One

by Lisa McGarry


Lindsay Duncan stars in this major, two-hour film for television that looks behind the veil surrounding the “real” Baroness Thatcher, to imagine how she felt as she fell victim to one of the most extraordinary acts of political assassination the world has ever seen.

London, November 1990 and Margaret Thatcher’s beleaguered deputy, Geoffrey Howe, stands up in the House of Commons and makes a stinging resignation speech that no one is expecting and asks the rest of his party to consider its loyalty to the Iron Lady.

The Tory pack scents blood. Arch rival Michael Heseltine, Thatcher’s long-standing foe within the party, comes forward to challenge her for the Leadership of the party and the country. The knives are out. Thatcher refuses to take the leadership battle seriously and attends a summit in Paris when the ballot takes place, leaving matters in the hands of her loyal, but complacent, advisors.

Set against the positioning and manoeuvring of ambitious men and Thatcher’s relentless and desperate desire to cling to power, the film also shows the drive and single-minded belief that made her the most powerful woman in the world. It also shows a younger Thatcher, full of energy – a tragic echo of the isolated figure she became.

The result of the ballot signals the end of Thatcher’s political career, but only her husband, Denis, can bring himself to tell her. However, she refuses to admit defeat and, despite being forced to a second ballot, she decides to fight on, unaware that many Cabinet ministers are plotting her downfall.

In just nine days, Thatcher is hounded out and forced to resign.

Margaret Thatcher is played by Lindsay Duncan, Denis by Ian McDiarmid, Charles Powell by James Fox, Geoffrey Howe by John Sessions, Bernard Ingham by Philip Jackson, Michael Heseltine by Oliver Cotton, Willie Whitelaw by Robert Hardy, Kenneth Clarke by Kevin McNally, Peter Morrison by Rupert Vansittart and Ted Heath by Nigel Le Vaillant.

Thursday 26 February
9.00-10.50pm BBC TWO

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