Longford is a 2006 British television drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by Peter Morgan. The film centres on Labour Party peer Lord Longford and his campaign for the parole of Moors Murderer Myra Hindley. It was produced by Granada Productions for Channel 4, in association with HBO, and stars Jim Broadbent and Samantha Morton. The film was first broadcast on Channel 4 on 26 October 2006 and was an Official Selection at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Broadbent won the British Academy Television Award for his role.
Longford and Hindley had both died by the time the film was made; Longford in August 2001 and Hindley in November 2002. Hindley's lover and accomplice Ian Brady, played by Andy Serkis, was still living at the time of release.
The film begins during the late 1960s (during the first premiership of Harold Wilson) at the House of Lords, with Lord Longford, a regular prison visitor, presiding over a reception for a number of ex-convicts whom he had visited and corresponded with when they were incarcerated. He receives a letter from one of the most notorious criminals in Britain, the Moors Murderer Myra Hindley, who is several years into her life sentence for taking part in the murder of three children with her boyfriend, Ian Brady.
When he visits her, she asks for books but also for him to arrange for her to meet Brady. Longford is shocked and tells her that it would be in her own best interests to have no contact with Brady, as it might harm any future chances of parole. Hindley seems equally shocked at the idea that she would ever be allowed parole. Longford then begins his campaign for Hindley to be paroled, acknowledging that her trial judge had felt that rehabilitation and the chance of eventual parole would be possible for Hindley once removed from the influence of Brady.
The question remains of whether Hindley is indeed reformed — for example, in her decision to convert to Longford's own Roman Catholic faith — or whether she is merely manipulating him and feigning her rehabilitation in an attempt to bring herself closer to release. Longford visits Brady twice; on both occasions, Brady tells him that she is manipulative and that he should turn his back on her, as she is only interested in winning release from prison.
Longford, driven by his deep religious belief that all people are ultimately good, decides to continue on his course, despite heavy public, political, and family criticism and even though it turns out that Hindley has not been honest with him. His own wife even advises him to find another cause to pursue for his family's good as well as his own.
In 1986, Hindley reveals that she and Brady were responsible for two further murders. She later helps police locate the body of one of the victims.
Even as Hindley's revelations spark yet more public hostility towards Longford, for trying to win her release, he remains loyal to Hindley in public and continues to back her campaign for release. Privately, he is depicted as being affected by doubts. He is last seen visiting her in prison in the late 1990s, by which time he is frail and in his nineties. Hindley, still in her fifties, is in a declining state of health.
As the film ends and just before the credits start to roll, we are informed that Longford died in August 2001, while Hindley did not win the parole that she spent many years fighting for. She remained imprisoned until her death in November 2002.Jim Broadbent as Lord Longford
Samantha Morton as Myra Hindley
Lindsay Duncan as Lady Elizabeth Longford
Tam Dean Burn as Roy
Robert Pugh as Harold Wilson
Anton Rodgers as William Whitelaw
Kate Miles as Rachel Pakenham
Lee Boardman as Radio Talk Show Host
Andy Serkis as Ian Brady
Roy Barber as Father Kahle
Alex Blake as Paddy Pakenham