Working Class Heroes
A collection of films lit up by the charisma of working-class stars; a celebration of fine actors and remarkable leading roles.
In Britain (for a time at least) film stars came from comprehensives and council houses. The story begins in the socially mobile 1960s as young working-class talent exploded through music, fashion and film. In the hard-edged 80s Bob Hoskins became a popular male lead. Then in the 90s a new mood saw a series of inventive British films built around working-class faces. Beyond angry young men, our heroines stretched from Carol White to Katie Jarvis, while modern British cinema spotlit the junction of race and class.
This collection brings together the bold, powerful and provocative films that can be made when working-class stars have the chance to shine
Drama1967101 minsDirector: Ken Loach
Ken Loach’s perceptive, personal, and moving debut feature film tells the story of a young mother’s struggles while her husband is in jail.
Gangster1979109 minsDirector: John Mackenzie
Bob Hoskins charms as a London mob boss brokering a development deal with the American mafia – but somebody wants to see him dead.
Gangster1986100 minsDirector: Neil Jordan
Neil Jordan's gritty thriller stars Bob Hoskins as a gangster recently released from prison who falls in love with the prostitute he is supposed to be protecting.
Drama201692 minsDirector: Paddy Considine
Paddy Considine directs and stars with Jodie Whittaker in this emotional knockout - the story of a boxer rebuilding his life after a near-fatal injury.
Thriller2013112 minsDirector: Daniel Wolfe
A young couple whose relationship has divided a community are forced on the run through the streets and moors of nocturnal Yorkshire.
Crime2009103 minsDirector: Daniel Barber
Michael Caine’s storming return to an action role finds him as a retired marine confronting local hoodlums on his housing estate.
Drama2004120 minsDirector: Mike Leigh
Mike Leigh’s acclaimed story of a selfless woman who performs unlawful abortions in 1950s Britain; both an affecting drama and vital social history.
Drama201596 minsDirector: Helen Walsh
In this spiky and stylish debut from novelist Helen Walsh, two girls from different backgrounds form an unlikely bond, setting off on a dangerous course.
Crime201188 minsDirector: Joe Cornish
Aliens wage war on a tower block after one of their number is bludgeoned by a street gang in this witty, action-packed feature debut by Joe Cornish.
Drama2015114 minsDirector: Michael Caton-Jones
In the wake of the London riots, teenager Jamie (Letitia Wright) finds herself at a crossroads; until music offers an unexpected path to salvation.
Comedy200695 minsDirector: Roger Michell
Peter O’Toole in one of his last, finest performances in this story about an aging actor who thought he’d seen it all – until he met her.
Biopic2007122 minsDirector: Anton Corbijn
The life story of Ian Curtis, the tortured singer of Joy Division who suffered epilepsy and crippling self-doubt, filmed in stunning monochrome.
Performance201396 minsDirector: Shane Meadows
Avid Stone Roses fan Shane Meadows records the reunion of the pivotal 1990s rock band, in this heartfelt and inspiring documentary
Drama194077 minsDirector: Penrose Tennyson
Deeply moving mining drama that provided the legendary American singer/actor Paul Robeson with his best British film role.
Drama201092 minsDirector: Paddy Considine
Paddy Considine’s powerful feature debut, featuring astonishingly strong performances from Olivia Colman and Peter Mullan.
Thriller2011127 minsDirector: Tomas Alfredson
Gary Oldman leads an all-star cast, including Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy, in this acclaimed adaptation of John Le Carré's esteemed spy novel.
Drama2016100 minsDirector: Ken Loach
Ken Loach’s powerful, Palme d’Or-winning invective against welfare injustice captured the mood of modern Britain and became his biggest box office success.
Drama1998105 minsDirector: Ken Loach
Ken Loach's intense drama boasts a majestic performance from Peter Mullan as a recovering alcoholic in Glasgow, struggling with his feelings for a local health worker.
Crime2010124 minsDirector: Peter Mullan
Peter Mullan's forceful drama about a boy who becomes embroiled in gangland life in 1970s Glasgow, peppered throughout with a rich vein of black humour.
Comedy199489 minsDirector: Danny Boyle
Ewan McGregor and Danny Boyle burst onto the scene with this dark crime caper about three friends and their rich, dead flatmate.
Drama200591 minsDirector: Menhaj Huda
Noel Clarke and Menhaj Huda’s explosive youth film follows the drug, sex and crime-fuelled antics of a group of West London teens over the course of a single day.
Drama200899 minsDirector: Noel Clarke
After being released from prison following a murder charge, Sam Peel (Noel Clarke) attempts to reboot his life and seek redemption.
Crime2016104 minsDirector: Noel Clarke
A decade after the release of Adulthood, Sam (Noel Clarke) is trying to keep his family safe while simmering old grudges threaten to resurface.
Drama198693 minsDirector: Alan Clarke
A married man seduces two teenage babysitters in Alan Clarke’s mix of bawdy comedy and social comment, based on Andrea Dunbar’s Bradford plays.
Comedy198092 minsDirector: Bill Forsyth
The ultimate depiction of coming-of-age awkwardness, Bill Forsyth’s comedy about a teen who falls for the new female footballer on the school team.
Drama1996107 minsDirector: Mark Herman
Pete Postlethwaite stars in this emotional drama about members of a colliery brass band who learn their mine may soon be closing.
Comedy199997 minsDirector: Damien O'Donnell
Damien O'Donnell's charming comedy-drama about Zaheed Khan (Om Puri), the patriarch of a Pakistani-British family whose children begin to reject their heritage and embrace UK life.
Documentary201786 minsDirector: David Batty
Michael Caine takes us back to swinging London in this engaging documentary on the 1960s cultural revolution, featuring over 50 interviews with the key players.
Drama201694 minsDirector: David Leon
Stephen Graham is the orthodox Jew tempted into a life of violence by his corrupt associate (Michael Smiley), in this riveting and complex crime drama.
Drama1988112 minsDirector: Mike Leigh
Mike Leigh’s bittersweet comedy tells the story of Cyril (Philip Davis), an idealist who despairs at the societal changes of Thatcher’s Britain.
Drama198276 minsDirector: Alan Clarke
Tim Roth burst onto British screens with his coruscating performance as a teenage skinhead in this TV play from Alan Clarke and David Leland.
Comedy201388 minsDirector: Destiny Ekaragha
Riotous urban comedy adapted from the hit Royal Court play, about a Peckham teen affronted by the arrival of his long-lost Nigerian sibling.
Comedy200797 minsDirector: Richard Laxton
A group of Merseyside gardeners take umbrage to the arrival of some refugees, but they find common cause to resist a devious corporate takeover.
Drama199590 minsDirector: Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle's exhilarating, narcotic trip follows a group of heroin-addicted friends as they navigate their way through Glasgow's seedy 1990s drug culture.
Comedy198594 minsDirector: Chris Bernard
A defining Merseyside film, in which two Liverpool lasses hook up with a pair of Russian sailors only to wonder if they might be better off behind the Iron Curtain.
Documentary201587 minsDirector: Jane Preston
Documentary portrait of the mercurial football genius who inspired the game’s modern renaissance while battling personal demons.
Drama1982102 minsDirector: Karl Francis
Glenda Jackson and Jon Finch play Welsh investigative journalists covering the Troubles in Northern Ireland only to unearth censorship and corruption back home.
Drama199599 minsDirector: Philip Goodhew
Julie Walters and Rupert Graves are at the centre of a sordid love triangle in this pulpy melodrama about seedy shenanigans in 1950s suburbia.
Drama199196 minsDirector: Ken Loach
Robert Carlyle plays a homeless construction worker who falls for a unemployed pop singer in Ken Loach's hilarious yet potent paean to working class London life.
Drama1979120 minsDirector: Franc Roddam
The ultimate Mods vs Rockers clash, based on The Who’s double-album rock opera, stars Phil Daniels as a mod on an odyssey to Brighton.
Thriller2012100 minsDirector: Steve Knight
An alcoholic ex-special forces soldier (Jason Statham), down on his luck, assumes another man’s identity and pursues redemption.
Musical199877 minsDirector: Julian Henriques
Neeta and her crew rise to dancehall fame in North West London's Caribbean community, in the first Black British musical.
Drama1962126 minsDirector: Bryan Forbes
Bryan Forbes directs the Oscar-nominated story of a French woman (Leslie Caron) moving to London while unmarried, pregnant, and alone.
Drama196263 minsSilentDirector: James Hill
Shirley Anne Field stars in this stylish, highly enjoyable story of simmering tensions and sexual conflict in the work place.
Drama1962113 minsDirector: John Schlesinger
John Schlesinger makes his feature film debut with this adaptation of Stan Barstow’s novel about a factory worker (Alan Bates) and his complicated relationship to a typist (June Ritchie) who he doesn’t fully love.
Drama195995 minsDirector: Guy Green
Richard Attenborough plays a factory worker who’s ostracised after refusing to support a strike, in this gritty industrial drama.
Drama195080 minsDirector: Michael Anderson
A tough and gritty drama detailing the turbulent life of hard-drinking Liverpudlian seamen, with Richard Burton in only his third film role.
Crime1961106 minsDirector: Sidney Hayers
Billie Whitelaw stars in this tough Tyneside-set crime drama about a gang of criminals who turn against each other following a payroll heist.
Drama195275 minsDirector: Lewis Gilbert
Lewis Gilbert’s shocking and controversial 1952 drama focuses on a gang of juvenile delinquents and their dangerous exploits in post-war London.
Crime194590 minsDirector: Robert Hamer
Gordon Jackson stars in a seething tale of family conflict, murder and blackmail in Victorian Brighton.
Drama194990 minsDirector: Frederick Wilson
The son of a Scottish farmer get a job in a shipyard and shows an unexpected flair for design, conceiving a revolutionary ship.
War1943103 minsDirector: Frank Launder
The finest example of British wartime fictional propaganda follows a group of women who take on factory work to support the war effort.
Woodfall: A Revolution in British Cinema
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of Woodfall Films, the revolutionary company that pioneered the British New Wave.