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Fact checking Darkest Hour: the true history behind Gary Oldman's Churchill biopic

Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour, the new film about Winston Churchill’s devastating first weeks as Prime Minister in 1940, is winning critical plaudits for Gary Oldman's stirring performance in the title role. But as with all such adaptations of history, from Wolf Hall to The Crown, there is a temptation to ask how much is actually true.

Was Churchill's power really so diminished in 1940? Were he and the King really such good friends? And did he actually ride the tube? So let’s attempt to sort the fact from the fiction. 

The political scenario

The situation at Westminster in May 1940 as portrayed in the film seems too disastrous (and so too good for the screenwriter) to be true. A single man has been propelled to the leadership of his country despite huge suspicion within his own party and vicious criticism from key Cabinet rivals.

The nation he leads faces the most ruthless, despicable and best equipped enemy...

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