Antony Thomas was making documentary films at a time in film and TV when leading producers and executives were backed by their organizations, could stand by their principles and get films made. Three very different commissioners – Charles Denton, Sheila Nevins and Tony Essex – gave him a free rein to make defining, bold films. They were not dominated by the obsession with ratings and chasing “subscriber loyalty”, or hampered by lawyers making risk-averse decisions to protect the brand, as is the case for factual entertainment today.
Today the United Kingdom, after over three years of turmoil, officially leaves the European Union. Plus ça change. Its relationship with Europe over the past thousand years has always been one of conflict and collaboration. The historian David Starkey has argued that Henry VIII’s break from the Catholic Church in Rome made him the first Eurosceptic. “Catholic Europe was now the threat, the launch pad for invasion. In other words Henry was the first Eurosceptic: the xenophobic, insular politics he created have helped to define English history for the past five centuries.”