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United 2011

United: The Legend of the Busby Babes


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The true story of how the world's most popular team rose from the ashes.

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About United 💬

  • Based on a true story.

David Tennant stars as inspirational coach Jimmy Murphy, alongside Jack O'Connell as Bobby Charlton and Sam Claflin as star player Duncan Edwards. Manager Matt Busby is played by Dougray Scott. UNITED is the riveting story of Manchester United's legendary ''Busby Babes''.

  • The team that defined an era, and the disaster that tore them apart.

The youngest side ever to win the Football League, Manchester United had the world at their feet until the tragedy of the 1958 Munich Air Crash.

  • At 15:04 on Thursday 6 February 1958

The Munich Air Crash killed 23 of the 43 passengers onboard, including supporters, journalists and embassy staff.

  • Together they stood.

As football and its supporters worldwide mourned, the extraordinary resilience and spirit of the city and club galvanized the rebuilding of the team and brought new hope in the wake of the disaster.

The film draws on first-hand interviews with the survivors and their families to tell the inspirational story of a team and community overcoming terrible tragedy.

  • The Flowers of Manchester

Remembering the #FlowersOfManchester.

We will never forget. #FlowersOfManchester

We loved you then. We love you now. We'll love you always. #FlowersOfManchester


Q: What attracted you to United?

David Tennant: I've worked with James Strong (director) and Chris Chibnall (writer) several times before and James sent me the script. I knew it would be worth reading because it came from him. I'm not a football expert but I was completely bowled over by the incredible story and journey that Manchester United went on. I thought that if it had grabbed and moved me as much as that, then clearly the story must be universal, worth telling and something I wanted to be part of.

Q: What is United about?

David Tennant: The film is about all sorts of things because what happened is so extraordinary. On a very basic level, it's a true story but it also looks at the arbitrary nature of fate, the capriciousness of life and the triumph of the human spirit. The film deals with how we pull ourselves together after the tragedy because people cope with grief in so many different ways. We're telling an utterly compelling and dramatic story as it happened. As I started to research this, I realized there's a fair amount of quibbling over detail but the basic facts of the story are indisputable.

The film also follows the relationship between Jimmy and Bobby Charlton. You see him finding Bobby, nurturing and bringing him through. It was a hugely important relationship for both of them. Bobby Charlton said he learned everything from Jimmy Murphy and credits his career to him.

We try to tell the story and honor it because it's a story that should be told. It's extraordinary that this hasn't been dramatized before. There's never been a straightforward film or TV drama about this extraordinary dramatic story and it's long overdue.

Q: How did you prepare for the role of Jimmy Murphy?

David Tennant: I'd never heard of Jimmy Murphy, which is shocking considering what he did. That's part of what I like about the fact we're telling this story. Matt Busby said that Jimmy was the most important signing he ever made at Manchester United but I didn't realize what Jimmy did after the crash. When you're playing a real person there's a balance between playing the person in the script and playing the person as he was in life. You have to be respectful and true to who that person was, but at the same time tell the story in the film. I tried to find out who Jimmy was and about the facts of his life but inevitably I can only filter that through who I am. Physically I'm not particularly like Jimmy; I'm a bit taller and slightly younger than he was at that time. Quite early on I had to accept what couldn't be changed and then move towards what could be achieved.

Q: What was it like meeting Jimmy's family?

David Tennant: Jimmy's family were incredibly welcoming and helpful. From meeting them, I got a sense of this very driven, warm and humble man who was terribly dignified in the way he conducted himself. He was clearly a brilliant teacher and football was a life vocation for him. I think the two loves in his life were Manchester United and his family and he was hugely passionate and invested in them both. His family spoke with great warmth towards him and took huge pride in talking about what Jimmy did and achieved.

Q: What are your impressions of Jimmy?

David Tennant: Jimmy shunned the limelight and was happier on the football pitch. He enjoyed training young people and finding the football stars of the future and was incredibly gifted at nurturing them. I think Jimmy found himself in a situation that he didn't crave; being a manager and solely responsible for keeping the team going. He must have felt like he wanted to grieve but to fight the very human impulse to chuck it all in is hugely impressive. He met the challenge and not only did he keep the team going, but he made them extraordinarily successful against all the odds. Post the crash he got offered the most extraordinary jobs in world football, for huge sums of money, but chose not to take them. Instead, he stayed as the Assistant Manager until he retired.

Q: What research did you do for the film?

David Tennant: I knew about the Munich air crash because it's a huge part of history, but I didn't know the details so I started reading about it. We managed to get hold of lots of newsreel footage, which was compelling because it revealed the national feeling at the time. One of the hardest things to recapture is the sense of what it was like to live through that event. Inevitably you start finding the modern day equivalent; those moments when a news report comes through and the world feels different. It's inconceivable that a bunch of the nation's greatest, youngest, most dynamic and most celebrated sportsmen should all be wiped out in an instant on the brink of their potential being realized. It's one of those events that doesn't seem to have precedent; it seems totally unfair, random and ghastly.

Q: How do you think Manchester United changed after the tragedy?

David Tennant: It's difficult to know because I wasn't around so all I can go on is written accounts of the time. I get the sense that what happened in Munich in 1958, how the team coped with it and how they came back from the brink, was possibly the beginning of Manchester United as the kind of world football team they are today. The way they conducted themselves and struggled back with such dignity and fight has inspired an international love for the team and that is due in no small part to what Jimmy did.

Q: What was it like working with Dougray Scott?

David Tennant: Dougray got to do his own accent, so he had the advantage there! When he first turned up he did this voice which was exactly Matt Busby, it just came growling out of him. When you hear some of the footage from Matt Busby, you can tell he had a very distinctive and extraordinary timbre and Dougray got it down to a tee. I think he's a fantastic choice for the role and he's a huge football aficionado; he knows everything so was a great resource for any football trivia that needed clearing up.

United Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

James Strong

Writing Credits

Chris Chibnall


David Tennant

Jack O'Connell

Sam Claflin

Dougray Scott

Dean Andrews

Kate Ashfield

David Calder

Neil Dudgeon

Tim Healy

Melanie Hill

Bill Fellows

Thomas Howes

Brogan West

Philip Hill-Pearson

Ben Peel

Liam Shannon

Kyle Ward

Jackson Maule

Ben Taylor

Music by

Clint Mansell

Cinematography by

Christopher Ross

Genres: Drama, History, Sport

Country: United Kingdom

United Trailer

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