The Great Offices of State - Palace of Dreams

Logo for The Great Offices of State - Palace of Dreams

Three-part series in which award-winning reporter Michael Cockerell uncovers the secret world of Whitehall, showing what the trio of great offices - Home, Foreign and Treasury - are really like. The Foreign Office is the grandest of the three, built in Victorian times to impress foreigners when the British lion still strutted the globe. How the Foreign Office has sought over the years to come to terms with Britain's reduced status in the world makes an often tragicomic tale. Cockerell blends fresh access filming, rare and previously unseen archive and interviews with past and present foreign secretaries and their normally camera-shy senior officials. The film tells of the many behind-the-scenes battles in the FO between its mandarins and ministers and against 10 Downing Street. Successive prime ministers have regarded the Foreign Office as temperamentally inclined to kow-tow to foreigners and have sought to be their own foreign secretaries - often with disastrous consequences. The film also explores the always-uneasy relationship between the FO and its offshoot, Britain's spy agency, MI6.