Continuing his series about how places have shaped political events, Peter Hennessy, the leading historian of post-war Britain, visits the Office of the Prime Minister in the House of Commons which has been a little-known cockpit of war planning since 1950.
He first discusses what is special about the Office and why it has been so important to successive prime ministers on defence issues.
He then considers how prime minister Clement Attlee and his Cabinet decided to handle Anglo-American tensions over the Korean War in 1950 that had been heightened by provocative remarks made by the US general, Douglas MacArthur, on the use of nuclear weapons.
Peter goes on to reveal the significance of the Office in the history of Britain's decision to develop the hydrogen bomb and then describes its pivotal role in the 1956 Suez Crisis and the abortive premiership of Conservative leader, Sir Anthony Eden.
Finally, we learn about the part played by the Office in the dramatic events of the spring of 1982 as prime minister Margaret Thatcher evaluated with her closest advisers the prospects for re-taking the Falkland Islands following the Argentine invasion.
Producer: Simon Coates.
Peter Hennessy visits the Office of the Prime Minister in the House of Commons.
Continuing his series that discovers how places have shaped major political events, Peter Hennessy visits the Office of the Prime Minister in the House of Commons which has been the little-known cockpit of war planning since 1950.
The Prime Minister's Office is a compact, little-known feature of the Palace of Westminster.
But its seemingly anonymous character and modest furnishings belie its centrality to British military deployments across the post-war decades.
After sketching the Office's history and layout, Peter Hennessy recalls first the events of late 1950 when Clement Attlee's Labour Government, which had recently committed troops to the costly Korean War, was faced with a fresh crisis in the east Asian conflict.
In Washington, US President Harry Truman appeared to suggest that nuclear weapons might be used in Korea.
The alarm this off-the-cuff statement generated in London led to a hastily-convened Cabinet meeting in the Prime Minister's Office and the decision that Attlee should travel immediately to Washington for urgent talks.
The next episode Peter Hennessy considers took place during the 1956 Suez crisis.
Specifically, he recalls a Cabinet meeting that November when the Conservative premier, Sir Anthony Eden, and his colleagues, had to face up to the immense financial and political pressure being put upon them by the Eisenhower administration in Washington to withdraw from the Suez Canal.
It proved to be a fateful meeting.
Finally, Peter Hennessy turns his attention to the role of the Office in the Falklands War of 1982.
It was in this room that the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was persuaded that a task force could - and should - be assembled to retake the islands from the Argentinians.