What defines being British? Filmmaker Frank Mannion is about to find the answers through a legion of well-known faces as well as local heroes to the United Kingdom.

What is “quintessentially British”? It can be anything including Shakespeare, the style of clothing and tailoring of Saville Row, Huntley and Palmer Biscuits, Parliament, Oxford, Cambridge, gardens, cars, food, and James Bond. Is it just about being from England? Does it involve Scotland? Ireland? Filmmaker Frank Mannion looks for answers, but the question is, is there a clear answer or bunch of answers that define being British?

Mannion talks with screen icons Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench amongst political figures like Lord Palmer of the House of Lords, Sir Lindsey Hoyle of the House of Commons, fashion designers, Lady Carnarvon of the real Downton Abbey, and more to get ideas to what defines being British. To some, it’s about civility and etiquette. For McKellen, being British means having a love of theatre as real life is not as fantastic as the stage, especially in the world of Shakespeare.

We get to see Mannion himself meet with the fashion experts of Saville Row and he gets inspired to have a custom suit and shoes made for him to showcase the essence of British fashion. Lord Palmer of the House of Lords started out as working for his family’s biscuit company only to get the title at the age of 39 after his grandfather passed. We soon learn the difference between the House of Lords and House of Commons with Sir Lindsey Hoyle calling Parliament the best and most influential government in the world.

We learn about the rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge especially when it comes to the annual boat race. There’s also the beautiful gardens, which leads to the Chelsea Flower Show, where we see Judi Dench and the various styles of handbags, firearms used for hunting. There’s also Downton Abbey, in which the Lady Carnarvon takes Mannion on a small tour of the actual place. There’s even mention of the late great legend that is Queen Elizabeth II, the grand dame of the country as she is hailed as the glue of the United Kingdom and treated the people like she is one of them despite her being the queen. So, what does it mean to be quintessentially British? It’s so many things that are covered well here.

Quintessentially British is quite a fascinating look at the culture of the United Kingdom, more England than anything but still, it’s quite a look at what defines being British. If you’re into the culture of England and the UK, you may enjoy this one.


Vision Films presents a Swipe Films production in association with Rialto Films, Carlow Castle Films, Kasiyan Knockbeg Enterprises, and CBS 1A1 Motion Picture Fund. Director: Frank Mannion. Producers: Oxana Popkovaand Frank Mannion. Writer: Frank Mannion.

Cast: Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Lady Carnarvon, Sir Lindsey Hoyle, Lord Palmer.

The film will be released in Digital on October 11.