I’ve just watched a 3 part drama called A Very British Coup which, as it was made in 1988, I was a bit young for the first time around [this is not the documentary of the same name about the royal abdication].

The dramas were based on the book of the same name [which apparently has a very different ending but I haven’t read it]  written by Chris Mullin MP.

It’s fairly interesting and well done and I would suggest you give it a look.

The basic idea is that a genuine left-wing government is elected in the UK. There is obviously extreme media and establishment hostility toward the incumbents but force of personality and a gift with one-line responses carries the day.

The left-wing government sets about making social reforms and disarming Britain’s nuclear capability and so on. As they do this they are impeded at every step by almost everyone in the establishment. Those in high places that try to help them with their reforms are eliminated in one way or another.

There is the feeling of watching a car crash in slow-motion as you watch this because you know it won’t come to a good end.



  1. Now you’re making me feel old! I saw this when it was first shown by C4 back in 1988. Of course in real life, the extreme measures that the ruling class deploys in the programme are not necessary to prevent the election of a left-wing government, much less defeat its policies. Ho hum. But a great story all the same.

  2. There’s also a book called The Man Who Held the Queen to Ransom and Sent Parliament Packing, about a coup by a group of British army officers. They aren’t exactly left-wing, but they’re certainly not the sort of junta the British establishment can live with. It came out in about 1968, and the Prime Minister who gets deposed is called Wrigley. It’s by Peter Van Greenaway, who is mostly remembered for The Medusa Touch and who deserves to be far better known.

  3. Hi John, sorry for making you feel old. I was 11 when it came out first time. A little later and I would have seen it first time round because I first read Orwell when I was 11/12 and although obviously I didn’t get it all nothing was quite the same for me after that.

    Phil, the name Peter Van Greenaway rings a bell but i can’t say i know much about him. Will do some searching.

  4. I remember seeing this when it was first broadcast. Though I’m struggling to work out how exactly, as I wasn’t living anywhere that could receive Channel 4 back in 1988.

    I recall being quite affected by it though. One phrase in particular stuck with me and I’ve used it quite seriously many times since.

    “The trouble with the middle of the road, is you get hit by cars going in both directions”.

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