15 certificateThe Damned United is a Film programme that first aired in 2009 and has been classified a 15 certificate.

The Damned United is a 4 star programme

Image for the Film programme "The Damned United"

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    [2009, 2 Stars, Film]


The Damned United (2009)

Directed by
Tom Hooper

Having primed the nation's hunger for all things football-related over the past month or so with the World Cup, the BBC generously serves up a gap-filling footy snack in the shape of a mini-Brian Clough night on BBC2.

This treat for fans of the abrasive, dry-witted and tactically astute Clough comprises the terrestrial premiere of the film The Damned United, a fictionalised account of Clough's brief tenure at the mighty 1970s' Leeds United, alongside a documentary entitled 'Brian Clough: The Greatest Manager England Never Had.'

The Damned United, based on the novel by the ferociously intelligent Yorkshireman and neo-noir writer David Peace, is a drama revolving around the mere 44-day stay of Brian Clough as Leeds United manager. The appointment is a match made in hell as Clough's brutally gruff and antagonistic manner finds little truck with the self-regarding and supremely confident stars of a Leeds team who were one of English football's leading lights in the early 1970s.

As well as the general hubris of Clough's character, the film focuses on the intimate friendship between Michael Sheen's Clough and his assistant Peter Taylor (played by the hang-dog faced Timothy Spall) which is a complex relationship and something of a torrid 'bromance'. Sheen's uncanny ability to channel characters from recent history is again on show here (after eerily accurate manifestations of Tony Blair (The Deal, The Queen), David Frost (Frost/Nixon) and Kenneth Williams (Fantabulosa!).

The film, perhaps a little underrated upon its release, is from a screenplay by Peter Morgan (The Queen) and is directed by the passionate and articulate British director Tom Hooper who has risen from solid television stock and won many plaudits for his helming of multi-Emmy award-winning HBO mini-series John Adams.

Interestingly the film was boycotted by the late Clough's family despite being invited to read the script and watch early cuts of the film, a reaction apparently based on the less favourable (and fictionalised) representation of Clough in David Peace's original novel. On the whole, it is fair to say that the portrayal of Clough in the film is largely affectionate.

Following The Damned United is a new documentary, neatly timed to chime with many football fan's grumbles about Fabio Capello's apparent inability to coax any sort of convincing performance from England in the World Cup.

'Brian Clough: The Greatest Manager England Never Had,' recounts the story of Cloughie's entire career which was never shy of a controversial moment or two. On being told of a trip by one of his competitor teams to one of football's most passionate countries, Clough retorted, 'Manchester United in Brazil? I hope they all get bloody diarrhoea.'

Now you wouldn't get that from, say, Sven Goran Eriksson would you?

Written by ,

Genre: Film

Running Time: 95 minutes (approx)

Production Year: 2009

4/5 Stars

Classification: 15 Certificate

Production Country: UK/USA

Filmed in Colour


Image for Colm MeaneyColm Meaney...Don Revie
Henry Goodman...Manny Cussins
David Roper...Sam Bolton
Jimmy Reddington...Keith Archer
Oliver Stokes...Nigel Clough
Ryan Day...Simon Clough
Image for Michael SheenMichael Sheen...Brian Clough
Image for Mark BazeleyMark Bazeley...Austin Mitchell
Image for Timothy SpallTimothy Spall...Peter Taylor
Image for Maurice RoëvesMaurice Roëves...Jimmy Gordon
Image for Stephen GrahamStephen Graham...Billy Bremner
Peter Michael McDonald...Johnny Giles
Mark Cameron...Norman Hunter
Frank Skillin...Younger Nigel Clough
Dylan Van Hoof...Younger Simon Clough