The Great British Film issue, to be released on May 13, celebrates a selection of the most significant and successful British movies produced since World War II. 

Royal Mail consulted the British Film Institute, cinema experts and polls of popular films to arrive at its choice of six to feature on the sheet stamps.

An accompanying miniature sheet focuses on the work of the GPO Film Unit, which produced ground-breaking documentaries for the Post Office in the 1930s, including the much-loved Night Mail.

The counter sheet stamps are designed by Johnson Banks and printed in lithography, in se-tenant strips of three, by International Security Printers. The miniature sheet was designed by Magpie Studio and printed in litho by Enschedé.


Its film industry is something Britain can be proud of, although the issue marks no anniversary


The simple format subtly evokes a strip of film while letting the movies star


Stills from the films may spark  memories but most are not very eye-catching at stamp size

1st class A Matter of Life & Death (1946)

This romantic fantasy film stars David Niven in one of his greatest roles, as a World War II RAF pilot who should have died but is caught between two worlds: the real world and a kind of afterlife. 

Written, directed and produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, it was filmed in a mixture of black-and-white and colour, and was selected for the first Royal Command Film Performance in 1946. 

1st class Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

This true story of the life of T E Lawrence, the archaeologist, explorer and writer who made his name as the British Army liasion officer in the Middle East during World War I, featured a powerful acting performance by Peter O’Toole and is regarded as director David Lean’s great masterpiece. 

It won seven Oscars (including Best Picture and Best Director), four BAFTAs and five Golden Globe awards. Steven Spielberg is on record as saying it inspired him to become a film-maker.

1st class 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

This most epic of science fiction films, dealing with human evolution, extraterrestrial life and artifical intelligence, was directed by Stanley Kubrick, who was American but made all his films in Britain. 

The script was co-written by British author Arthur C Clarke, based on his short story, and the innovative cinematography and Oscar-winning visual effects were the work of British technicians and cameramen at Shepperton Studios.

£1.28 Chariots of Fire (1981) 

This was the true story of two British athletes at the 1924 Olympic Games: Eric Liddell, a devout Christian who competed for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, a Jew who ran to conquer anti-Semitism.

Directed by Hugh Hudson, it won four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Original Score, with its distinctive theme tune by Vangelis. 

£1.28 Secrets & Lies (1996)

Directed by Mike Leigh, this film is a fine example of the British genre of social realism, telling the story of a middle-class black woman who decides to trace her real mother and finds she is a working-class white woman with a dysfunctional family.

With strong performances by Brenda Blethyn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste, it had five Oscar nominations and won two BAFTAs and the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

£1.28 Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Made by Gurinder Chadha, a British director of Indian Sikh origin, this is a comedy about a young Sikh woman in Britain who wants to play football in the face of opposition from her family. 

The film made stars of actors Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley, and proved hugely popular internationally, breaking box office records in India for a foreign film and becoming the first western-made film to be screened on North Korean television.


1st class Night Mail (1936)

Directed by Harry Watt and Basil Wright, with poetry by W H Auden and music by Benjamin Britten, this documentary about the mail train from London to Scotland is the best-known creation of the GPO Film Unit. 

1st class Love on the Wing (1938)

This Norman McLaren promotional film for Empire Airmail, using morphing drawings against complex coloured backgrounds, was so surreal that it was considered Freudian.

1st class A Colour Box (1935)

Len Lye’s hugely innovative animated short film advertising the postal service was simply drawn onto celluloid using marker pens. 

1st class Spare Time (1939)

This documentary by Humphrey Jennings showed the working class at play, cutting between different hobbies while taking care not to be judgemental.


The presentation pack is written by film historian Dr Scott Anthony, and a first day cover and stamp cards are available. 


Set of 6 stamps    £5.70

Miniature sheet    £2.48

Presentation pack    £8.70

Stamp cards    £4.95

First day envelope    £0.30

First day cover (set)    £7.32

First day cover (MS)    £3.45

TOTAL    £32.90