Made for the BBCin 1965, but not shown in full on British television until 1985, The War Game is Watkins’s response to the British government’s nuclear policy during the 1960s. A Soviet nuclear strike inKent demonstrates the possible consequences of such policy, detailing the horrific events through the format of a news programme, including fictionalised documentary, reportage and interviews.
By late 1964 Harold Wilson’s newly elected Labour Government had already broken its election manifesto to unilaterally disarm Britain, and was in fact developing a full-scale nuclear weapons programme, in spite of wide-spread public protest. There was a marked reluctance by the British TV at the time to discuss the arms race, and there was especially silence on the effects of nuclear weapons - about which the large majority of the public had absolutely no information. I therefore proposed to the BBC that - using one small corner of Kent in southeastern England to represent a microcosm - I make a film showing the possible effects, during an outbreak of war between NATO and the USSR, of a nuclear strike on Britain.
The War Game was awarded a Special Prize at the 1966 Venice Film Festival, an Academy Award as Best Documentary Feature in 1967, the Best Short Film Award at the 1967 BAFTAs, and a Golden Mikeldi award at the 1967 Bilbao International Festival of Documentary and Short Films.