News story

History films

This news article was published under the 2005 to 2010 Labour government

Watch films on the history of Downing Street and different Prime Ministers.

Here you can watch films on the history of Downing Street and different Prime Ministers. The videos shown here are all available for viewing and embedding into other websites on our YouTube channel:

Learn more about the history of 10 Downing Street and 51 different Prime Ministers:

Prime Minister Eden urges UN action on Suez

At the height of the Suez canal crisis in November 1956, as Israeli troops enter the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Anthony Eden urges the United Nations to act quickly to resolve the conflict. The UN responds by proposing the creation of its first peace-keeping force.

Churchill Receives an Honourary Degree at Harvard

This Universal Newsreel, dated 9 September 1943, includes a short excerpt from the speech given by Churchill as he received an honourary degree at Harvard, on 6 September that year.

Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt in Yalta

This Universal newsreel from 15 February 1945 covers the Yalta Conference - a meeting between the ‘Big Three’: Prime Minister Churchill, Joseph Stalin and President Roosevelt at Yalta, on the Crimean Peninsula.

Harold Macmillan meets JFK

Prime Minister Harold Macmillan meets President John Kennedy for the first time at the White House, in this Universal newsreel from 1961.

Mr Baldwin and “Old Berkely”

This silent news film shows Stanley Baldwin and his family welcoming the Berkely hunting pack to Chequers in 1926.

Footage is courtesy of the British Film Institute.

Churchill takes a break

This Universal Newsreel from January 1946 covers Sir Winston Churchill’s holiday in Florida.

Although Churchill was not Prime Minister at the time of this visit, having lost the 1945 election to Clement Attlee, he remained an internationally renowned statesman.

Attlee in the United States for talks

Watch this Universal Newsreel from 13 November 1945, shortly after the end of World War II, covering Clement Attlee’s visit to the United States.

The Prime Minister held talks with President Truman on world security and attended an Armistice Day wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, alongside the US President and the Prime Minister of Canada.

Baldwin appeals for support for the National Government

A 1931 appeal by Baldwin for support for the National Government, arguing that the Labour Party (under Arthur Henderson) had disrupted the stability of the country.

Baldwin was, in effect, second in command of the National Government. However, he was better suited to film than the Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, who always looked uncomfortable in the glare of the camera.

Baldwin, indeed, had had advice and encouragement from various film producers, and from John Reith, director-general of the BBC. This advice and his own naturalness in front of the camera served him effectively in the 1935 election, when he was returned as prime minister.

Now for the Premiership Stakes!

Stanley Baldwin electioneering in his constituency of Bewdley, Worcestershire with his wife Lucy. Footage, filmed during the election campaign of 1923, courtesy of the British Film Institute

Ramsay MacDonald appeals for support

In this 1931 film Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald talks of the daily fluctuations in the value of the pound and its effects on housewives; he appeals for support for the National Government which will be a union of parties and will be able to carry out the tasks needed.

Margaret Thatcher: Blue Peter interview on Kampuchea

Margaret Thatcher is interviewed by Caron Keating for Blue Peter’s ‘Bring and Buy’ appeal for Kampuchea [Cambodia], December 1988.

Simon Schama’s Tour of Downing Street. Pt4: The Staircase

Simon Schama looks at the history of Downing Street’s Staircase and how past PMs have presented themselves.

Simon Schama’s Tour of Downing Street. Pt3: The Dining Room

Simon Schama looks at the history and style of Downing Street’s State Dining Room.

Simon Schama’s Tour of Downing Street. Pt 2: The Cabinet Room

Simon Schama’s tour of Downing Street continues in the Cabinet Room, in the company of Tony Blair.

Simon Schama’s Tour of Downing Street. Pt 1: The White Room

Simon Schama explains the origin of Downing Street and looks at the White Room in the company of Tony Blair.

End of an era for the “Welsh Wizard”

Political drama as David Lloyd George resigns as Prime Minister in this 1922 newsreel from Topical News.

Bonar Law forms a new Government

In this fascinating silent film from the BFI, Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law and his new Cabinet assemble for the first time in the State Dining Room of No10. The year is 1922.

Lloyd George’s first visit to Chequers

Many PMs down the years have headed to Chequers to escape the pressures of office. In this rare 1921 footage from the BFI, David Lloyd George is shown enjoying some time off.