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Heavy Metal Britannia

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This enjoyable entry in the rock-doc canon teases out the gnarled roots and riffs that fed into a genre as ridiculed as it is revered. All the major players are represented in this wide-stanced, hair-tossing profile from 2010: Maiden, Sabbath, Purple, Priest… but it’s the early and minor influences that contribute the best stories, especially Arthur Brown hiding under a carpet in a bid to elude Hells Angels.

If the performance footage lacks the variety of other Britannias, there’s still touching use of Led Zeppelin’s Ten Years Gone in the summing up, in which axe men defend metal’s place in the rock pantheon. No place here for “one of England’s loudest bands”, Spinal Tap, but Nigel “Bad News” Planer adds some playful vocals.


Documentary tracing the genre's emergence in the late 1960s, pioneered by bands including Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, who were based in the industrialised Midlands. This classic form of metal was challenged by punk in the late 1970s, before a new wave of groups such as Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Saxon reinvigorated the style. Featuring contributions by singers Ian Gillan, Glenn Tipton, Lemmy, Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford, guitarist Tony Iommi and keyboard player Jon Lord. Narrated by Nigel Planer.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Nigel Planer
Contributor Ian Gillan
Contributor Glenn Tipton
Contributor Rob Halford
Contributor Tony Iommi
Contributor Jon Lord
Contributor Lemmy
Contributor Bruce Dickinson
Contributor Biff Byford
Director Chris Rodley
Executive Producer Mark Cooper
Producer Chris Rodley
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