In the pivotal scene of "Darkest Hour" Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman), on his way to Parliament, ditches his car and takes the Tube. On the train he talks with some regular Londoners and this inspires him to change his decision about the peace negotiations with the Germans.

Is this based on actual facts - some anecdote at least? Or is it a pure movie creation?

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    This one's obviously fake. No British person would ever consider talking to a stranger on the tube.
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 1:24

1 Answer 1


It's an invention for the movie:

TheWrap put the question to “Darkest Hour” screenwriter Anthony McCarten, who not only wrote the screenplay but has published a companion history book about the events of May, 1940 — and in the book, he does not describe the scene in the Underground.

And McCarten admitted that no, it probably did not happen. But something like it might well have. “This is the kind of thing he did right through the war,” said McCarten of Churchill. “He would go AWOL, disappear and pop up somewhere in London with ordinary people, to find out what they were thinking. So that scene was drawn from deep research, but we have no record that it happened.

“It’s a perfect example of how you’re trying to dramatize verifiable events that might have happened outside the time frame of your movie, but which are very, very valuable for the dramatist in showing critical aspects of your story.”

Slate points out a deeper issue with the scene:

Historian Richard Toye undertook a massive archival dragnet that found the British did not, in fact, snarl along with Churchill’s speeches. Upon hearing them, some were inspired, many were dubious, and many looked to their family and neighbors to assess what they’d just heard. They didn’t cheer like Minnesota Vikings fans; they, in fact, thought pretty hard about what the speeches meant. This is another heartening example from history: Not only did Britain make the hard choice, they didn’t make it in a fit of rhetoric-induced adrenaline.

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    Also Churchill, when giving his speeches, didn't rabble-rouse as shown in the trailer (I've only seen that). He was very down-to-earth and matter of fact and never raised his voice. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 16:26
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    @simonatrcl I have also heard that but thet may be an artifact of the low tech recording's. Any public speaker and he was a good one knows the power of changing the tempo and tone also the HOC is notably a loud place so its a natural thing to put more emphasis in your peroration Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 21:23
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    @Neuromancer There was no audio recording in the House of Commons until 1975. Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 8:46
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    @simonatrcl possibly off topic: Churchill's speeches were "studio" recorded after they were delivered, so the delivery of the recorded speeches we know must be quite different from the live delivery, and I bet a great deal more articulate (it is said he worked very hard on delivery in the studio).
    – PatrickT
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 9:31
  • Thank you all. I did not know any of that, but it makes sense. Commented Feb 28, 2018 at 21:30

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