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A day of disaster
August 19, 2012 2:26 AM   Subscribe

The Day Britain Stopped - Back in 2003 a train strike was the first in a chain of events that lead to a complete meltdown of the UK's transport system.

You can watch a feature length documentary on the day on Youtube (1:28:43). Ridley Scott is planning to remake it, taking the events global. (previously on real player)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (10 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
It is worth making it clear that The Day Britain Stopped is entirely fictional and was only a documentary in the extremely speculative sense.
posted by mattn at 3:12 AM on August 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


I remember this documentary well. There was sort of a trend for mock-disasters around the time it was broadcast; I remember a couple where politicians (or maybe actors pretending to be politicians?) were lead through Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style scenarios with the results of their choices shown like this. One involved the Thames Barrier and fatal flooding, and I think there was a terrorism-based one as well.

One thing that makes all of these so vivid and plausible is the quality of the acting, which rarely feels like acting at all. It's very, very natural scripting (or script-based improve) completely naturally delivered. The acting is in no way over-blown; the dramas are small and penetrating. I have extremely grave doubts about the ability of Ridley Scott to deliver that.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:19 AM on August 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have extremely grave doubts about the ability of Ridley Scott to deliver that.

Don't worry about that. Oh, and it's being renamed "Planes, Trains and Automobiles 2: Al-Qaeda's Deadly Storm" with the strapline "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the travel agent". John Candy's character is being played by Vin Diesel after focus group results thought it needed pepping up.

I hope this has reassured you.
posted by jaduncan at 3:35 AM on August 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't see how it would work on a global scale. It'd take too many separate coordinated incidents, surely? Bigger isn't necessarily better.

There were lots of those drama-docs in a row within a couple of years of each other -- Smallpox 2002 starts with an infection in New York that travels around the world -- and then Dirty War, which I can remember vividly but had to look up, which was about a terrorist releasing radioactive material near Liverpool Street station in London (which I commute through every day. Cheers BBC). That one scared the pants off me, almost to Threads proportions.

Though not actually TO Threads proportions. I don't think anything fictional will ever scare me as much as Threads did.
posted by finisterre at 4:00 AM on August 19, 2012


Does anybody remember those few blessed day during the fuel strike when cars became rare on the streets? I recall cycling on a weekday and seeing so few people about, as everybody who could was not driving for fear of using up their last fuel.
posted by Jehan at 5:23 AM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Smallpox 2002 starts with an infection in New York that travels around the world -- and then Dirty War, which I can remember vividly but had to look up

Then there was this 2003 long docudrama thing where the UK and US invaded Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction but in the twist there weren't any and millions of people turned into refugees or died. It was crazy!
posted by jaduncan at 5:33 AM on August 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


The use of the filmic structure of documentary is done so well here, the disaster becomes really quite terrifying.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:26 AM on August 19, 2012


So I've just watched this (can't believe I missed it when it was on originally) and it was really very good. And also remarkably... plausible, except maybe for the premise of a national rail strike. Would that even be allowed? Aha, apparently there was one in 1955 (two week long)! Here's a rather humourous newsreel about it.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 3:32 PM on August 19, 2012


It was part of a series called, if I remember correctly, If... There was another which involved rubbish turning the whole country into a massive apocalyptic landfill that distressed me for several days.'

The train service has been deregulated in the UK, so I'm not even sure a national strike is possible - certainly local operators have gone on strike, and there have been London Transport strikes which are pretty disruptive.
posted by mippy at 3:10 PM on August 20, 2012


I'm not even sure a national strike is possible

The union(s) are still national but I'm guessing it would take something pretty cataclysmic to trigger a national strike
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:39 AM on August 21, 2012


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