Curator's Choice: Noel Coward

© IWM COI 463. Warship Week Appeal

Curator Fiona Kelly's topical archive highlight this month features star entertainer Noel Coward

26 March 2023 marked 50 years since the death of the multi-talented playwright, actor, director, singer, composer, painter and the epitome of English wit, whose notable achievements include the screenplay for the classic film Brief Encounter (1945). 

Coward appeared alongside fellow star Leslie Howard in this Warship Week Appeal cinema trailer to encourage people to save money to help buy warships. The trailer was filmed at Denham Studios during the making of the patriotic In Which We Serve in 1942, for which Coward won an honorary Oscar ™ as writer, star, composer and co-director. The trailer also features a brief appearance by another major figure in British cinema, the screenwriter, producer, cinematographer and director Ronald Neame.

Entertaining the Troops

The Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) was an organisation established in 1939 to provide entertainment for British armed forces personnel during the Second World War. Along with many other wartime entertainers, Coward performed for the troops with ENSA and our collection includes footage of Noel Coward making a surprise visit to soldiers in Malta.

Find Out More

A major documentary Mad About the Boy: The Nöel Coward Story (featuring IWM archive material) is due for cinema release this summer. 

Contact the licensing team for further information and help with archive research.