Who’d have thought it? Downing Street is posting silent films on YouTube. It’s true. DowningSt is a registered YouTube member and has posted some 50-60 videos on YouTube, including a selection of Topical Budget silent newsreels from the collection held by the British Film Institute. This one shows Conservative PM Andrew Bonar Law (not one of the more celebrated British prime ministers) introducing his new cabinet to the newsreel cameras in 1922 – absolutely fascinating for the differing reactions from the ministers to this unprecedented intrusion from the media. (Adding comments has been disabled, by the way, should you have wished to express your rage – or heartfelt approval – at Bonar Law’s handling of the economy in 1922).
Others available from DowningSt on YouTube include MR BALDWIN AND ‘OLD BERKELEY’ (Stanley Baldwin with a hunt), NOW FOR THE PREMIERSHIP STAKES! (Baldwin electioneering), and LLOYD GEORGE RESIGNS (the fall of the Lloyd George Liberal government in 1922). I’m particularly fond of a 1921 Topical Budget film showing Lloyd George at Chequers in 1921, DOWNING ST IN BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, deftly filmed by Fred Wilson (in the dim and distant past I wrote a book on Topical Budget, and I’m always pleased to see it getting continued screenings). There was a real art to the best of the silent newsreels, as for any other kind of silent film production.
One oddity – all of the Topical Budget items posted by DowningSt are without a soundtrack, yet three of them come from the 1992 BFI Topical Budget video release, which had excellent music by Neil Brand. Shame.