Ben Elton: The Great Railway Disaster

Channel 4


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Comedian and writer Ben Elton investigates what's gone wrong with Britain's Railways.

The railways are in crisis, with mass cancellations and soaring prices. Comedian and writer Ben Elton embarks on a northern train misadventure to discover what’s going wrong – and uncovers a situation almost beyond parody. In a film packed with revelations (and some rather good jokes), he concludes that thirty years after the government sold off British Rail, privatisation is an experiment that’s gone badly wrong.  Taxpayers are handing over more in subsidy, fares are more expensive and services less reliable. He calls for change, arguing that governments should think about the railways not as a drain on the public purse but as a crucial tool to spread prosperity. “Our European competitors understand that the “profit” from efficient, affordable rail travel doesn’t come from the ticket price. It comes from a booming economy, connected communities, a cleaner environment.” Made in collaboration with @RumpusMedia

The Times in its four star review praised the documentary as, "incisive, entertaining and correct...mixing the right amount of comedy with grim, depressing reality."

First Broadcast

June 26, 2023



Written and Presented by

Ben Elton

Additional Material

James Kettle


Getty Images


Carlyle Photography

Composed Music

Bonar Bradberry

Additional Music

Audio Network




Dave Whyte

Post Production


Senior Post Production

Anna Beaven

Finishing Editor

Aaron Brookes-Tennant

Dubbing Mixer

David Ingram

Sam Hodgkins

Line Producer

Ali Watt

Heads of Production

Fran Peters

Lucy Rothery


Adrian Marciante

Jay Dacey

Tom Traies

Simon Makin

Camera Assistant

Fraser Harrison


Ed Richardson


Kris Gibson

Andy Johnson

Additional Editing

Jayesh Lathia

Assistant Producers

Ethan Hackett

Winifred Kakouris

Janine Trafford

Film Editor

Mark Hanford


Nicola Hebden


Jill Worsley

Executive Producers

Emily Hudd

Eamonn Matthews

  Produced and Directed by

Claire Burnett

QuickSILVER / Rumpus


Filmed across England

For Channel 4 Television


If you are a broadcaster who would like to buy this programme please contact Quicksilver Media for distribution details: Tel:+44 (0) 1865 596 252 

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