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Longford
Poster for United States release
Genre
Written byPeter Morgan
Directed byTom Hooper
Starring
Music byRob Lane
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
Production
Executive producers
ProducerHelen Flint
CinematographyDanny Cohen
EditorMelanie Oliver
Running time88 minutes
Production companyGranada Productions
Original release
NetworkChannel 4
Release26 October 2006 (2006-10-26)

Longford is a 2006 British biographical crime drama television film directed by Tom Hooper and written by Peter Morgan. The film centres on Labour Party peer Lord Longford and his campaign for the parole of Moors Murderer Myra Hindley. It was produced by Granada Productions for Channel 4, in association with HBO, and stars Jim Broadbent and Samantha Morton. The film was first broadcast on Channel 4 on October 26, 2006 and was an Official Selection at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Broadbent won the British Academy Television Award and a Golden Globe for his role.

Longford and Hindley had both died by the time the film was made; Longford in August 2001 and Hindley in November of 2002. Hindley's lover and accomplice, Ian Brady, played by Andy Serkis, was still living at the time of release.

Plot

The film begins in 1987 when penal reform campaigner Lord Longford is invited by a radio host to discuss his new book “Saints”, with the radio host inviting listeners to call in and join in with the conversation about the new book. Instead, Longford finds himself being challenged by a man who berates him for campaigning for Myra Hindley's release from prison - particularly as she has recently confessed to another two killings which had remained unsolved for more than 20 years. Longford declines to talk about Hindley, as he had made it clear that he would not be discussing her on this particular program. He makes the same response when another caller questions whether he regrets having supported Hindley for so long now that he knows she stayed silent for so long about the two additional murders, and other facts about the case which Hindley had only recently revealed.

The story itself begins during the late 1960s (during the first premiership of Harold Wilson) at the House of Lords, with Lord Longford, a regular prison visitor, presiding over a reception for a number of ex-convicts he had visited and corresponded with during their imprisonment, including one who is now a successful artist and another who has forged a career in motor engineering. He then receives a letter from one of the most notorious criminals in Britain, the Moors Murderer Myra Hindley, who has recently been sentenced to life imprisonment for her role in the widely reported Moors Murders - which involved the murder of two children and a teenager.

When he visits her, she asks for books, but also for him to arrange for her to meet Ian Brady, her former partner who is equally serving a life sentence for having committed three murders. Longford is shocked and tells her that it would be in her own best interests to have no contact with Brady, as it might harm any future chances of parole. Hindley seems equally shocked at the idea that she would ever be considered for parole. Longford then begins his campaign for Hindley to be paroled, reminding her that the trial judge had felt that rehabilitation and the chance of eventual parole would be possible for Hindley once removed from the influence of Brady.

The question remains of whether Hindley is indeed reformed - for example, in her decision to convert to Longford's own Roman Catholic faith - or whether she is merely manipulating him and feigning her rehabilitation in an attempt to boost her chances of parole. Longford’s friendship with Hindley is soon uncovered by the tabloid media, and Longford soon receives a letter from Ian Brady, requesting a prison visit from him.

He visits Brady twice; on both occasions, Brady tells him that Hindley is manipulative and that he should turn his back on her, as she is only interested in winning release from prison and will do or say anything to boost her chances of gaining parole.

Longford, driven by his deep religious belief that all people are ultimately good and can be reformed if they have sinned, decides to continue on his course, despite heavy criticism from the public, tabloid media, politicians and even from his own family. His own wife advises him to find another cause to pursue for his family's good as well as his own, before eventually deciding to support his campaign for Hindley's parole.

In 1977, he appears on the very first episode of Brass Tacks, a current affairs programme, in which he takes part in a debate on the issue of whether Myra Hindley should be given parole. Longford argues that Hindley has repented and had merely acted as Brady's accomplice under duress, but is faced with an argument against Hindley's parole from Ann West (the mother of Moors Murders victim Lesley Ann Downey), who feels that Hindley should never be given parole, and vows to kill her if she is ever released. Patrick Kilbride, the father of one of the other victims, appears on the program via telephone and also threatens to kill Myra Hindley if she is ever released.

Ann West was at the centre of a campaign to ensure that Hindley was never released, and gave regular newspaper and television interviews to argue against any suggestion of parole for Hindley, and on many occasions vowed to kill her if she was ever set free. Ann West died in February 1999, shortly after Hindley's unsuccessful second appeal against a Home Office ruling to keep her in prison for the rest of her life. Her media campaign to keep Hindley was also actively supported by John Kilbride’s parents and brother. Longford often condemned the media - particularly The Sun newspaper - for their "exploitation" of Ann West.

By 1986, Hindley is about to have her case for parole assessed by the Parole Board and appears to stand a good chance of parole in the near future, but Longford visits her in prison and she reveals that she and Brady were responsible for two further murders. She later helps police locate the body of one of the victims.

Even as Hindley's revelations spark yet more public hostility towards Longford, he remains loyal to Hindley in public and continues to back her campaign for release, even though Hindley herself had told him at an earlier meeting that the campaign he conducted on her behalf may have done her more harm than good, and that she would understand if he decided not to visit her again. He continues to defend Hindley and campaign for her release. He does so during a radio interview regarding a book he has had published in the late 1980s, during which a number of callers berate Longford for his support of Myra Hindley, and demand to know whether he regrets his campaigning now that new facts have emerged. He initially declines to talk about Hindley, but finally agrees to discuss her when the radio host questions him, but insists that he does not regret having supported Hindley and that his friendship with her has enriched his life.

Privately, he is depicted as being affected by doubts, particularly when he listens to the audio tape recording of Lesley Ann Downey being abused during the minutes leading up to her death.

He is last seen visiting Hindley in the grounds of her medium security prison in the late 1990s, by which time he is frail and aged over 90. Hindley is now in her late 50s and her health is deteriorating, and it appears unlikely that she will live for longer than a few more years.

As the film ends and just before the credits start to roll, we are informed that Longford died in August 2001, while Hindley died in November 2002, having never won parole.

Cast

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2007
British Academy Television Awards Best Single Drama Peter Morgan, Tom Hooper, Helen Flint, and Andy Harries Nominated [1]
Best Actor Jim Broadbent Won
Andy Serkis Nominated
Best Actress Samantha Morton Nominated
British Academy Television Craft Awards Best Director Tom Hooper Nominated [2]
Best Writer Peter Morgan Won
Best Editing – Fiction/Entertainment Melanie Oliver Won
Best Photography and Lighting – Fiction Danny Cohen Nominated
Best Production Design Michael Pickwoad Nominated
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Best Single Drama Won [3]
Best Actor Jim Broadbent Won
Best Actress Samantha Morton Nominated
Writer's Award Peter Morgan Nominated
Golden Nymph Awards Best Direction – Television Film Tom Hooper Won [4]
Best Script – Television Film Peter Morgan Won
Outstanding Actor – Television Film Jim Broadbent Nominated
Andy Serkis Nominated
Outstanding Actress – Television Film Lindsay Duncan Nominated
Samantha Morton Nominated
Humanitas Prize 90 Minute or Longer Network or Syndicated Television Peter Morgan Won [5]
Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Motion Picture Nominated [6]
Best Actor in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Jim Broadbent Nominated
Best Costume Design in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Nominated
Best Music in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Made for Television Movie Peter Morgan, Andy Harries, and Helen Flint Nominated [7]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Jim Broadbent Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Samantha Morton Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special James Keast and Sarah Moore Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score) Rob Lane Nominated
Royal Television Society Awards Best Single Drama Nominated [8]
Best Actor (Male) Jim Broadbent Nominated
Best Writer (Drama) Peter Morgan Won
Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture Made for Television Nominated [9]
Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Jim Broadbent Nominated
Best Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Samantha Morton Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Andy Serkis Nominated
Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards Best Original TV Drama Peter Morgan Nominated [10]
2008
American Film Institute Awards Top 10 Television Programs Won [11]
Golden Globe Awards Best Miniseries or Television Film Won [12]
Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Jim Broadbent Won
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Andy Serkis Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Samantha Morton Won

References

  1. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Television in 2007". BAFTA. 2007. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  2. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Television Craft in 2007". BAFTA. 2007. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Broadcasting Press Guild announces the BPG 33rd Annual Television and Radio Awards". Broadcasting Press Guild. 23 March 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
  4. ^ "2007 Gracies Golden Nymph Awards Winners" (PDF). Golden Nymph Awards. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  5. ^ "Past Winners & Nominees". Humanitas Prize. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  6. ^ "11th Annual TV Awards (2006-07)". Online Film & Television Association. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  7. ^ "Longford". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  8. ^ "RTS programme awards - winners". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
  9. ^ "2007 Satellite Awards". Satellite Awards. International Press Academy. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  10. ^ "Writers' Guild Awards 2007". Writers' Guild of Great Britain. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  11. ^ "AFI Awards 2007". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on 17 October 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Longford – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved 5 July 2021.