In this pioneering BBC4 documentary, Matthew Sweet takes us on a journey the first three decades of British cinema, telling the story of one of the most creative, extravagant, pleasurable and yet unknown periods of film history - when the cinema was silent. Of the thousands of films made in Britain before the emergence of sound in 1929, only a few hundred survive - most of them preserved inn the bfi National Film and Television Archive. Ealing, Pinewood, Shepperton have all become household names, but who would have thought that cinema in Britain was born in such places as Hove and Walton-on-Thames where a one-man operation could churn out over one hundred films a year, that audiences would flock to see? Britain too had its fair share of glamorous starlets, and luminous leading men who lit up the screens, and here Silent Britain introduces us to these early pioneers - the visionary filmmakers and the unsung stars of Britain's' own Hollywood. The first documentary to celebrate this extraordinary but vastly underrated period of film history, and fully illustrated throughout with film clips from the first British sex comedy in 1898 to Britain's first talkie in 1929 - Hitchcock's Blackmail - Silent Britain exposes the very British origins of arguably the most important art form of the twentieth century.