Directed by: Edward Mirzoeff
Countries & Regions: United Kingdom
Length: 50 mins
Region: Region 0
Released: 30 June 2014
Cat No: DAN086UKDR
Screen ratio 1:1.66
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‘This is a good parcel of English soil in which to build home and strike root, inhabited from old, as witness the lines of camps on the hill tops and confused mounds amongst the woods, the great dyke which crossed it east and west, the British trackways … the new settlement of Metro-land proceeds apace, the new colonists thrive amain.’ Thus the Metropolitan Railway promoted ‘Metro-land’ – the term coined by its publicity department for the outer reaches of its lines to the north-west of London – in the late 1920s, and here, in a celebrated film made for the BBC in 1972, ‘poet and hack’ John Betjeman delves into the spirit of the place.
Betjeman often referenced the area in his poetry (‘Harrow-on-the-Hill’, ‘Middlesex’, ‘The Metropolitan Railway’), and here pays reflective tribute to the ‘mild home county acres,’ appraising both the oddities and the normality of the place.
When first shown, Metro-Land was pronounced an ‘instant classic’, with Clive James predicting it would still be shown come the Millenium. It still is being shown and rightly so; it’s as endearingly eccentric as Betjeman himself.