Sir Winston Churchill (via Wikimedia Commons)

Exeter historian explores Churchill’s landslide election defeat in new BBC documentary

University of Exeter historian, Professor Richard Toye will feature in a new documentary on BBC Two about Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill: When Britain Said No premieres on Monday 25 May at 9pm, and reflects on Churchill’s controversial legacy. The programme explores Churchill’s surprising election defeat in 1945, less than two months after declaring victory in Europe.

Professor Toye said, “It is one of the greatest paradoxes of Churchill’s career that, at the close World War II, in spite of his effective leadership and high levels of personal popularity, the electorate kicked him out of Downing Street.” In his interview, Professor Toye will discuss how Churchill’s “relative neglect of post-war planning” contributed to the outcome of the election.

He added, “At the same time, his transition from ‘national leader’ to ‘party leader’ was always going to be a tricky one, and he made a significant error in suggesting that a Labour government would have to rely on ‘some form of Gestapo.’ The Labour Party and its leader, Clement Attlee, exploited his difficulties very effectively and at the same time put forward a programme that to many voters seemed highly compelling.”

Churchill: When Britain Said No will feature first-hand accounts, and perspectives from celebrated historians, including Sir Max Hastings, Juliet Gardiner, Anthony Beevor and writer Dave Douglas. Each contributor will offer their insights on Churchill, debating the strengths and weaknesses of one of Britain’s most revered Prime Ministers.

Date: 22 May 2015

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