Jul 072011
 

Britannia Hospital, by Lindsay Anderson, is a social satire, a bleak metaphor for British society in the early 1980s, an allegory of Thatcherism (and a prophetic vision of Cameronian Britain). Strikes, police violence, police corruption, riots, all present in daily life today, and all represented in this black comedy. In the hospital’s 500th anniversary year, Britannia Hospital administrator, Vincent Potter (played by Leonard Rossiter), is desperately trying to restore order prior to a visit by the Queen Mother, who is coming to open the Millar Centre for Advanced Surgical Science. Meanwhile, in an effort to produce a supreme being — which he calls Genesis — Professor Millar himself (played by Graham Crowden), is secretly conducting Frankenstein-like experiments on human cadavers. With the British government’s failure to provide funding for hospitals, the new Centre is being financed by the Japanese company, Banzai Chemicals, the owners of which are also present for the special day. Intermittent telephone services and a faltering electrical supply add to Potter’s frustrations, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. An undercover team of journalists (led by Malcolm McDowell, the rebel public schoolboy from If . . . ) are about to stop at nothing to uncover Millar’s clandestine project, and there is a growing number of protesters (including many of the staff) at the main gate demonstrating against the preferential treatment of the hospital’s private patients, including an Idi Amin-type African dictator (Val Pringle), who has installed most of his aides and servants in the hospital too (Anderson’s original inspiration for the film came from the staff of Charing Cross Hospital in the 1970s who refused to treat private patients). The kitchen staff go on strike when they learn that the food for the special guests has been ordered from top London food specialists Fortnum and Mason. Potter wins over their union representative by promising him an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List …

See also: LINDSAY ANDERSON – A Celebration (1994)CB FILMS