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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 16:06 GMT
Blair: The Inside Story
In a major three-part series, award-winning political journalist Michael Cockerell tells the inside story of Tony Blair's controversial time at the top.

Tony Blair and family standing outside 10 Downing Street
BLAIR: THE INSIDE STORY
BBC Two, 2100 GMT
Tuesdays from 20 February

Tony Blair is already the longest serving Labour prime minister in our history, as he approaches his 10th anniversary in Number 10 this May and nears the end of his premiership.

Michael Cockerell says: "The last 10 years have been a compelling political psycho-drama. From being the most popular prime minister in our history, Tony Blair has become one of the least popular.

"In this series, I'll be looking at why that has happened and at the interplay between power and the prime minister's complex, multi-layered personality."

Candid interviews with Downing Street insiders, cabinet colleagues and rivals give a fresh perspective on the key events of the past tumultuous decade.

The series also draws on Cockerell's own extensive filming of Tony Blair inside Number 10 (some never seen before) and reveals the sharp contrast between the new leader, the war leader and the leader who knew his days were numbered.

Programme 1: The New Leader - Tuesday 20 February

The first programme examines how Tony Blair came to power on a huge wave of public goodwill, as the Tories were swept out of office on a tide of sleaze and incompetence.

With a blazing sense of mission, the new prime minister promised his government would be whiter than white, and that he would transform Britain and make the world a better place.

Those who have been closest to Blair reveal in the programme how he responded to the many challenges and crises that face a modern prime minister, and how his early years in office taught him a number of painful lessons about the gap between spin and substance.

Programme 2: A Man With A Mission - Tuesday 27 February

The second programme tells the inside story of Tony Blair's wars.

Tony Blair meets British troops in Iraq in 2005
Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq provoked mass protests in the UK

It includes a remarkable speech that Blair made in his first month as prime minister, proclaiming his could be the first generation where not a single British soldier was sent to war.

Yet in his first six years at Number 10, Blair ordered British troops into battle a record number of five times. Michael Cockerell reveals the reasons why.

He shows how the prime minister developed his radical new doctrine of the moral case for intervening by force against evil across the whole world.

Interviews with the people closest to Blair cast new light on his burning sense of personal mission. And key Downing Street insiders talk for the first time about the effect of Blair's Christian beliefs on his policy.

The programme also shows how the prime minister was able to transfer his allegiance from President Clinton - whom he had strongly supported throughout the Monica Lewinski affair - to the Neo-Conservative George W Bush.

And how it was that Blair gave his unstinting support to Bush for the invasion of Iraq, which has done such damage to the prime minister's reputation.

Programme 3: The End Of The Affair - Tuesday 6 March

The final part of Michael Cockerell's acclaimed series tells the story of Tony Blair's final years in office.

Blair's decade-long relationship with the British people has been a bitter-sweet affair
Michael Cockerell
It is a period dominated by a range of crises: Blair's heart problems, his troubles with Gordon Brown, the aftermath of the war in Iraq, the plots to overthrow him, cash for honours allegations and endless questions about when he would leave Number 10.

Cockerell explains: "Tony Blair's time at the top has been a compelling political psycho-drama. His decade-long relationship with the British people has been a bitter-sweet affair.

"And as it comes to an end, our programme will be attempting a first assessment of the Blair legacy and his place in history."

Series Producers: Adam Grimley and Diana Martin
Executive Producer: Samantha Anstiss


SEE ALSO
1997: Labour landslide ends Tory rule
15 Apr 05 |  past_elections
Blair defiant over Iraq security
22 Feb 07 |  UK Politics

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