The remarkable story of Brendan Bracken, one of Churchill’s closest advisers and friends, and the man without whom Churchill would not have been Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Brendan Bracken was Winston Churchill’s closest friend and adviser for over 30 years. From when they met in 1922, when Bracken was 22 and Churchill, a 47 year old seasoned politician and ex-minister, Bracken and Churchill’s lives were intertwined socially, politically and financially.
Throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s Bracken, as a publisher, arranged for Churchill to write articles for numerous publications, became an MP, for Paddington, in 1929, and sat knee to knee with Churchill fighting the growing appeasement of the rising German menace – Adolf Hitler. They were a “party of 2” and almost alone they warned of the impending storm they could see coming from Germany. In 1940 Bracken’s advice to Churchill to “stay silent” in the meeting to decide Neville Chamberlain’s successor after the Norway debacle, was the vital piece of advice. When Lord Halifax asked for support he looked to Churchill who stayed silent. It was as Lord Beaverbrrok later said “the 2 minute silence that saved England!” Churchill became Prime Minister on 10th May 1940.
Brendan Bracken was many things, he was of an Irish republican background, he “arrived” in England in 1920 and bluffed his way into, firstly Sedbergh School (in Cumbria) then into the social world of 1920’s England using his “old school tie” from Sedbergh as his passport. Bracken worked for Eyre & Spotiswode and with heir help built the old and rather staid Bible and Prayer book printer, into a dynamic publishing house which created “The Banker”, “The Practitioner” bought a half share in “The Economist”, bought “The Investor’s Chronicle” and “The Financial News”. By 1928 Bracken , still only 27 was a media mogul – rich and respected for his abilities, though the Churchill family viewed his association with Winston Churchill with apprehension. Importantly Churchill’s other big enemy – all through his life – was the Inland Revenue – UK Tax Department, owing to Churchill’s poor abilities with money. He always spent more than he earned, and having lost significantly in the 1929 crash, was by 1938 almost bankrupt. Bracken sourced funds to bale-out Churchill, because a bankrupt politician could not lead the country. Bracken was sure that this was Churchill’s moment.
Astonishingly on the day Churchill became Prime Minister, Bracken had to advise Churchill on anther battle with the Taxman, and arrange yet another loan. So close was he to Churchill, that the family – including wife Clementine – genuinely wondered if Bracken was not Winston Churchill’s illegitimate son. They both for example had red hair. Randolph Churchill always called Brendan Bracken – “my brother the bastard”. In 1941 Brendan Bracken became Minster of Information, and was largely responsible for the BBC staying out of the clutches of the British Government. Churchill hated the BBC and wanted to nationalise it but Brendan Bracken steered Churchill away from that course of action. The documentary tells the story of Brendan Bracken from birth to death (in 1958) and although the Churchill family and Churchill’s biographers refused to co-operate.
After the war Brendan Bracken merged his “Financial News” with the” Financial Times” creating a first class modern newspaper with a business base. Still published world-wide it is a legacy to Brendan Bracken as a publisher , and the base of the Financial Times, now owned by Nikkei of Japan, is Bracken House in London’s Canon Street. Bracken was one of the “men who saw Churchill after midnight”, one of Churchill’s closest advisers. He arranged Churchill’s external image and thus was the first “spin-doctor”, and along with Lord Beaverbrook and others was very much a part of the “kitchen cabinet”. On his death Bracken ordered all his papers to be destroyed. He wanted no record of his life to be left behind. No Memorials, no services, books, his ashes to be scattered behind the Cinque Ports of which Winston Churchill was the Lord High Warden. Bracken’s life was spent in service to his hero Winston Churchill.
This programme tells the story with interviews, dramatic reconstructions images and archives. The producer, writer and presenter is Adrian Bracken who, through his Irish great grandfather, was a very distant relation.
- Haselbech Hall Northamptonshire, where the reconstruction scenes were filmed, was the home of J. Bruce Ismay , the Charman of the White Star Line who “retired” there after escaping from the “Titanic” ship sinking in 1912.
- The clock above the main door of Bracken House in London, the home of “The Financial Times”, has the face of Winston Churchill at its centre.
- This was placed there by Brendan Bracken to honour of his great friend.
Production & Filming Details
- Adrian Bracken.
- Darren Richardson.
- Adrian Bracken … producer.
- Adrian Bracken.
- Ray Harman.
- Darren Richardson.
- Marbella Productions.
- Star Content (2019) (World-wide) (TV).
- Release Date: 22 October 2014 (UK).
- Rating: Unknown.
- Running Time: 88 minutes.
- Country: UK.
- Language: English.