|Written by||John Betjeman|
|Produced by||Edward Mirzoeff|
|Narrated by||John Betjeman|
|Distributed by||BBC One|
|26 February 1973|
Metro-land is a BBC documentary film written and narrated by the then Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Sir John Betjeman. It was directed by Edward Mirzoeff, and first broadcast on 26 February 1973. The film celebrates suburban life in the area to the northwest of London that grew up in the early 20th century around the Metropolitan Railway (MR)—later the Metropolitan line of the London Underground.
"Live in Metro-land" was a slogan coined by the MR for promotional purposes in about 1915, and used for about twenty years until shortly after the incorporation of the MR into the railways division of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933. As Betjeman himself puts it at the beginning of Metro-land, it was a "Child of the First War, forgotten by the Second". Betjeman carries with him, as he travels, the pamphlet guide to Metro-land from the 1920s.
The film was critically acclaimed and is fondly remembered today. A DVD was released in 2006 to coincide with the centenary of Betjeman's birth.
According to its creator Edward Mirzoeff, the programme was conceived in 1971 over a lunch with John Betjeman at Wheeler's Restaurant in Soho.  The two had recently collaborated on a BBC series called Bird's-Eye View, which offered an aerial vision of Britain. Metro-land was directly commissioned by Robin Scott, Controller of BBC2, with the initial working title of "The Joys of Urban Living", following a flowery personal letter from Betjeman. As completed, it is a series of vignettes of life in the suburbs of Metro-land, drawn together by Betjeman's commentary—partly in verse—whose text was published in 1978,  and interwoven with black-and-white film shot from a Metropolitan Railway (MR) train in 1910. It is 49 minutes in length.
Betjeman's first appearance in Metro-land is over the remains of a pint of beer in a station buffet, reminiscent of a scene in the film Brief Encounter (1945). This sequence was filmed at Horsted Keynes, on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex. Other locations include:
In general, Metro-land was favourably and warmly received. Miles Kington wrote to Mirzoeff that it was "just about the most satisfying TV programme, on all levels, that I've ever seen".  Clive James, writing in The Observer , dubbed it an "instant classic" and predicted accurately that "they’ll be repeating it until the millennium".
It was shown on BBC Four in 2006, in the same week that the DVD was released, and more recently was shown on BBC Four again in January and June 2013, and in September 2014. Its most recent screening was on BBC Four on 26 February 2023 to mark exactly the fiftieth anniversary of its first transmission.  Christopher Booker rated it as the best of Betjeman's television programmes ("Like others, I have been endlessly grateful … over the years for the more public activities of the 'outer' Betjeman"),  while Betjeman's biographer A. N. Wilson recalled that it was "too good to be described simply as a 'programme'". 
In a contemporaneous review for the London Evening Standard , Simon Jenkins launched into imitative verse: "For an hour he held enraptured/Pinner, Moor Park, Chorley Wood./'Well I’m blowed' they said, 'He likes us./Knew one day that someone should."
"Tiger Rag" by the Temperance Seven is heard over the opening title sequence – a 33 rpm vinyl disc played at 45 rpm to provide "a suitably manic sound"  – and is followed by "Build a Little Home" by Roy Fox. As Betjeman sits at a table in the Chiltern Court restaurant, "When the Daisy Opens her Eyes" by Albert Sandler plays. When Betjeman looks at 12 Langford Place, 'Agapemone', 'the abode of love', country house of the Reverend John Hugh Smyth-Pigott, "The Witch of Endor" from "Le Roi David" by Arthur Honegger is heard.
The sequence at Neasden is accompanied by the song of the same name by William Rushton. The Wembley sequence features three tunes: Elgar's "Civic Fanfare", towards the beginning, Walford Davies' "Solemn Melody" (as Betjeman stands in the Palace of Arts), while the pleasure park footage uses the beginning and the end of the 1926 recording of "Masculine Women, Feminine Men" by the Savoy Havana Band (HMV B-5027). The section that features people working in Harrow is accompanied by "Family Favourites" by Rod McNeil and "Down by the Lazy River" by The Osmonds.
During the sequence at Harrow School, the "Harrow School Song" is heard. When the sequence of stained-glass windows at Harrow are shown, "Sunny Side of the Street" by Jack Hylton plays. Part of the segment on Grim's Dyke in Harrow Weald is accompanied by "Tit Willow" by Gilbert and Sullivan.
"Golfing Love" by Melville Gideon accompanies the footage featuring golfers at Moor Park, and while the paintings in the Moor Park clubhouse are shown, Handel's Double Concerti plays. During the Pinner Carnival, “Metal Guru” by T Rex can be heard in the background. "Build a Little Home" is played again during part of the sequence at Chorleywood. The sequence featuring Len Rawle and his Wurlitzer is accompanied by the works: "Crimond", "Varsity Rag", and "Chattanooga Choo Choo". Finally, during part of the sequence showing High and Over, "Everything I Own" by Bread is heard. 
The Metropolitan line, colloquially known as the Met, is a London Underground line between Aldgate in the City of London and Amersham and Chesham in Buckinghamshire, with branches to Watford in Hertfordshire and Uxbridge in Hillingdon. Printed in magenta on the tube map, the line is 41.4 miles (66.7 km) in length and serves 34 stations. Between Aldgate and Finchley Road, the track is mostly in shallow "cut and cover" tunnels, apart from short sections at Barbican and Farringdon stations. The rest of the line is above ground, with a loading gauge of a similar size to those on main lines. Just under 67 million passenger journeys were made on the line in 2011/12.
Neasden is a suburban area in northwest London, England. It is located around the centre of the London Borough of Brent and is within the NW2 (Cricklewood) and NW10 (Willesden) postal districts. Neasden is near Wembley Stadium, the Welsh Harp, and Gladstone Park; the reservoir and River Brent marks its boundaries with Kingsbury and Wembley, while Gladstone Park and the Dudding Hill line separates it from Dollis Hill and Church End respectively. The A406 North Circular Road runs through the middle of Neasden; to the west is the Neasden Underground Depot, Brent Park retail area and the St Raphael's Estate; on the east is Neasden tube station, the large Neasden Temple, and former Neasden Power Station. The area is known as the place where Bob Marley lived after moving from Jamaica, living at a house in The Circle; the house was honoured with a blue plaque in 2012.
Pinner is a suburb in the London Borough of Harrow, Greater London, England, 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Charing Cross, close to the border with Hillingdon, historically in the county of Middlesex. The population was 31,130 in 2011.
Sir John Betjeman was an English poet, writer, and broadcaster. He was Poet Laureate from 1972 until his death. He was a founding member of The Victorian Society and a passionate defender of Victorian architecture, helping to save St Pancras railway station from demolition. He began his career as a journalist and ended it as one of the most popular British Poets Laureate and a much-loved figure on British television.
Baker Street is a London Underground station at the junction of Baker Street and the Marylebone Road in the City of Westminster. It is one of the original stations of the Metropolitan Railway (MR), the world's first underground railway, opened on 10 January 1863.
Wembley Park is a London Underground station in Wembley Park, north west London. The station is served by the Underground's Jubilee and Metropolitan lines and is in Travelcard Zone 4. It is located on Bridge Road (A4089) and is the nearest Underground station to the Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena complex. This is where the Jubilee line from Stanmore diverges from the Metropolitan line which was formerly a branch of the Metropolitan Railway and was taken over by the Bakerloo line and today part of the Jubilee line.
Chalfont & Latimer is a London Underground and National Rail station in Travelcard Zone 8 on the Metropolitan line, in Buckinghamshire. It also serves the Chiltern Railways line to Aylesbury. Chalfont & Latimer station is located just before the junction for trains to Chesham. The station serves Chalfont St Giles, Chalfont St Peter, Little Chalfont and Latimer. It is located in Little Chalfont. It opened as "Chalfont Road" on 8 July 1889 but changed to the present name from 1 November 1915. The station is a good location to alight from to explore the Chess Valley.
Rickmansworth is a town in southwest Hertfordshire, England, about 17 miles (27 km) northwest of central London and inside the perimeter of the M25 motorway. The town is mainly to the north of the Grand Union Canal and the River Colne. The town of Watford is 5 miles (8 km) to the northeast. Rickmansworth is the administrative seat of the Three Rivers District Council. The confluence of the River Chess and the River Gade with the Colne in Rickmansworth inspired the district's name. The enlarged Colne flows south to form a major tributary of the River Thames. The town is served by the Metropolitan line of the London Underground and Chiltern Railways from London Marylebone to Aylesbury railway station.
The Metropolitan Railway was a passenger and goods railway that served London from 1863 to 1933, its main line heading north-west from the capital's financial heart in the City to what were to become the Middlesex suburbs. Its first line connected the main-line railway termini at Paddington, Euston, and King's Cross to the City. The first section was built beneath the New Road using cut-and-cover between Paddington and King's Cross and in tunnel and cuttings beside Farringdon Road from King's Cross to near Smithfield, near the City. It opened to the public on 10 January 1863 with gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives, the world's first passenger-carrying designated underground railway.
Chesham tube station is a London Underground station in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom. It was opened on 8 July 1889 by the Metropolitan Railway (MR). It is the terminus station of the Chesham branch of the Metropolitan line, which runs from Chalfont & Latimer. The station, a Grade II listed building, is in London fare Zone 9.
Metro-land is a name given to the suburban areas that were built to the north-west of London in the counties of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Middlesex in the early part of the 20th century that were served by the Metropolitan Railway. The railway company was in the privileged position of being allowed to retain surplus land; from 1919 this was developed for housing by the nominally independent Metropolitan Railway Country Estates Limited (MRCE). The term "Metro-land" was coined by the Met's marketing department in 1915 when the Guide to the Extension Line became the Metro-land guide. It promoted a dream of a modern home in beautiful countryside with a fast railway service to central London until the Met was absorbed into the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933.
Chorleywood is a London Underground and National Rail station in Travelcard Zone 7 on the Metropolitan line. The village of Chorleywood is in the Three Rivers district of Hertfordshire about 20 miles (32 km) from London. Chorleywood station is also served by Chiltern Railways, which runs trains from London Marylebone station through to Aylesbury.
Pinner is a London Underground station on the Metropolitan line in zone 5. The station was opened in 1885 as part of the Victorian expansion of dormitory suburbs, and was one of the stations included in the Metro-land project in the early 20th century. The site is served by several bus routes including links to the Hatch End railway station which was known as Pinner & Hatch End prior to 1920. Step free facilities were opened in 2008. Its adjacent stations are Northwood Hills (northbound) and North Harrow (southbound).
Rickmansworth is an interchange railway station in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, northwest of central London, served by the London Underground Metropolitan line and by Chiltern Railways. It is one of the few London Underground stations beyond Greater London and as a consequence is in Travelcard Zone 7. The station is a good location to alight from to explore the Chess Valley.
Moor Park is a London Underground station in the Three Rivers district of Hertfordshire, serving those living on the Moor Park estate, and also on the neighbouring Eastbury and South Oxhey estates. The station is outside the Greater London boundary but is in both Zone 6 and Zone 7, between the Metropolitan line stations of Rickmansworth, Croxley and Northwood.
Northwood is a station on the Watford branch of the Metropolitan line, in Travelcard Zone 6. The station is located just off the main road through the town, Green Lane. The line serves as the sole continuous link between the town of Northwood and London, key for a region known as Metro-Land.
The London–Aylesbury line is a railway line between London Marylebone and Aylesbury, going via the Chiltern Hills; passenger trains are operated by Chiltern Railways. Nearly half of the line is owned by London Underground, approximately 16 miles (26 km) – the total length of the passenger line is about 39 miles (63 km) with a freight continuation.
The Brill Tramway, also known as the Quainton Tramway, Wotton Tramway, Oxford & Aylesbury Tramroad and Metropolitan Railway Brill Branch, was a six-mile (10 km) rail line in the Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, England. It was privately built in 1871 by the 3rd Duke of Buckingham as a horse tram line to transport goods between his lands around Wotton House and the national railway network. Lobbying from residents of the nearby town of Brill led to the line's extension to Brill and conversion to passenger use in early 1872. Two locomotives were bought for the line, but as it had been designed and built with horses in mind, services were very slow; trains travelled at an average speed of only 4 miles per hour (6.4 km/h).
A Passion for Churches is a 1974 BBC television documentary written and presented by the then Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman and produced and directed by Edward Mirzoeff. Commissioned as a follow-up to the critically acclaimed 1973 documentary Metro-land, the film offers Betjeman's personal poetic record of the various rituals taking place throughout the Anglican Diocese of Norwich and its churches in the run-up to Easter Sunday using the framing device of the Holy sacraments.
Chiltern Court, Baker Street, London, is a large block of flats at the street's northern end, facing Regent's Park and Marylebone Road. It was built between 1927 and 1929 above the Baker Street tube station by the Metropolitan Railway. Originally intended as a hotel and as its company headquarters, and begun in 1912, the Metropolitan's plans were interrupted by the First World War. When construction recommenced in the late 1920s, the building was redesigned as a block of flats and the Chiltern Court Restaurant. The architect was Charles Walter Clark.
Media related to Metro-Land (1973 film) at Wikimedia Commons