The lady’s not for turning off: Margaret Thatcher’s most memorable TV appearances

From defiant speeches to comedy sketches, whatever your political outlook, the Iron Lady was gripping viewing

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died today aged 87, still Britain’s only female PM, and its longest serving. 


Between 1979 and 1990, the media savvy Iron Lady remained a striking presence on television, delivering stirring political rhetoric, some comedy moments and, once in while, getting a taste of her own medicine…

“The lady’s not for turning”

Delivered as part of her speech to the Conservative Party Conference in 1980, the line “The lady’s not for turning” became something of a motto for the PM throughout her political career.

The Brighton bombing: “All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail”

In 1984, the Provisional IRA attempted to assassinate Thatcher and her cabinet with an explosive device at Brighton’s Grand Hotel. Undeterred by the attack, the PM delivered this speech the day after the blast, in which she insisted that terrorism will never be a match for democracy.

The sinking of The Belgrano

Following the sinking of the Argentinian naval cruiser ARA General Belgrano by a Royal Navy submarine at the start of the Falklands War in 1982, Mrs Thatcher was quizzed on TV about the legality of the attack by a concerned, and equally formidable, viewer Diana Gould in this memorable clash:

Yes Minister

Mrs Thatcher’s favourite TV programme was the political sitcom Yes Minister, and in 1984 she co-wrote a sketch featuring herself and the show’s two main charactrers, the oily civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby and hapless politician Jim Hacker. This was played out at the National Viewers and Listeners Awards, with Yes Minister’s stars Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne gamely taking part as the PM demonstrated a genuine knack for acting:

Dead Parrot

Mrs Thatcher got a round of laughs at the 1990 Conservative Party conference when she paraphrased Monty Python and derided the Liberal Democrats’ avian logo as “an ex-parrot.”

Leaving Number Ten


Having been forced to resign after Michael Heseltine launched a leadership campaign against her in 1990, a clearly emotional Mrs Thatcher exited Downing Street for the very last time, claiming she was leaving Britain in “a very much better state than when we found it”: