Ian Hislop Goes Off the Rails

Ian Hislop Goes Off the Rails


Another outing for this wistful film, originally shown in 2008 but repeated sporadically since. It centres on the 1963 “Beeching report”, which led the Government to “modernise” Britain’s rail network by shutting half of it down.

With his chummy red scarf and endearing love of trains, Ian Hislop avoids political rancour but still reveals the incompetence and skewed priorities that drove the reforms. Aside from questioning the idea that public services have to “pay their way” – an old argument that’s lost none of its relevance – Hislop documents the lasting effects on local economies, and the nation’s cultural heritage.


The story behind the 1963 Beeching Report, commissioned under Harold Macmillan's government, which led to the closure of a third of Britain's rail network. With contributions from experts, campaigners, railwaymen and passengers, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop outlines the historical background to the proposals, along with the social and economic impact that followed their implementation.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Ian Hislop
Director Deborah Lee
Producer Deborah Lee