happened at Dunkirk in May and June 1940 must rank as one of the
greatest maritime evacuations in history.
from the perspective of the decision makers and the soldiers, sailors
and civilians caught up in the events of those desperate days, this
factual drama follows the race against time to save the Allied armies
trapped in France.
British and French troops were forced into a shrinking pocket by
the relentless onslaught of the German army, the Royal and Merchant
navies, helped by a fleet of small civilian craft, launched a momentous
effort to rescue them - and miraculously managed to save more than
338,000 men in just ten days.
tells the story of those momentous days. The stories are the result
of an exhaustive research project which unearthed previously untold
personal accounts of what happened.
the characters portrayed are real. All the events are taken from
these first-hand accounts.
is on BBC TWO on three successive nights at 9.00pm starting on Wednesday
Scotland it can be seen on BBC TWO at 9pm on Thursday 19 February
and Friday 20 February, and at 9.15pm on Saturday 21. In Wales Dunkirk
will be on BBC TWO at 9pm on Thursday, 9.30pm on Friday and 9.15pm
director of Dunkirk explains: "We started by reading
the official documents (including previously unseen records at the
National Archive), private letters and archives, as well as accounts
lodged by Dunkirk veterans.
then interviewed more than a hundred survivors who shared with us
their memories and experiences. From this research we selected a
cross-section of accounts through which we could tell the story
Neil McKay (Wall of Silence, The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper
and The Murder of Stephen Lawrence) explains: "One
of the reasons why it seemed so important to make the drama now
is that the survivors of Dunkirk are in their eighties or older.
10 or 15 years the people who went through this extraordinary experience
may be gone and the opportunity will have been lost for ever.
hope the films will not just be gripping drama, but a fitting tribute
to those who went through the experience of Dunkirk."
theme is the often bitter disputes within the War Cabinet.
Churchill (played by 2003 Olivier award-winner Simon Russell
Beale) had only been Prime Minister for 16 days when he was
faced with a military disaster.
the entire British Expeditionary Force in France was in danger of
being captured or killed, and some cabinet colleagues wanted to
press for peace in order to save them.
insisted on fighting, pressing ahead with the evacuation.
Churchill ordered the beginning of Operation Dynamo (code name for
the Navy plan for the evacuation) the first gloomy estimates were
that only 45,000 of the soldiers trapped on the beaches could be
rescued, but ten days later more than 338,000 had been brought home.
bulk of the troops crossed the channel in Royal and Merchant Navy
fleet of smaller civilian craft played a crucial role, making repeated
trips between the beaches and larger vessels waiting offshore, often
under heavy bombardment and with no means of defence.
drama-documentary series tells the story of the Army's rearguard
who valiantly held a last line of defence, allowing hundreds of
thousands of others time to escape.
of wounded had to be left behind and the films also tell the story
of those who stayed to care for them.
says: "Dunkirk is the most astonishing rescue mission.
it weren't for Operation Dynamo, Britain would have been knocked
out of the war almost before it had started.
through perseverance Britain survived and the Allied war effort
was kept alive.
hope our series will help people understand the depth of courage
and determination needed to triumph against such insuperable odds."
Holmes adds: "By the time Operation Dynamo was over some 68,000
had been killed or captured, among them some of the civilians who
had volunteered to crew their own boats to help in the evacuation.
I talked to veterans I was moved by their willingness to risk everything.
making this series we wanted to recreate as closely as possible
the experiences of the veterans we had interviewed, and to find
a way of recreating on screen the intensity of the hastily improvised
filmed in a reportage style to put viewers at the centre of events,
just as the subjects of our stories had been."
cast also includes Christopher Good as Neville Chamberlain,
Richard Durden (Daniel Deronda) as Lord Halifax, the Foreign
Secretary, and Clement Attlee is played by his grandson,
Richard Attlee (The Archers).
of the BEF, General Lord Gort, is played by John Carlisle
(The Forsyte Saga). Clive Wood (London's Burning, The Bill)
plays General Henry Pownall, Michael Legge (Angela's Ashes)
plays Wilf Saunders, Phil Cornwell (Dead Ringers) plays Harry
Noakes and Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean, Spooks)
plays Major General Harold Alexander, who oversaw the final stages
of the evacuation from the beach.
will be narrated by Timothy Dalton.
is directed by Alex Holmes and produced by Rob Warr.
was shot in and around Dunkirk itself, in Belgium and the UK.
will be supported by a full interactive TV service, which will provide
key background information about the evacuation.
viewers will be able to access additional films through pressing
the red button on their remote control.
each episode digital viewers can access three different factual
films which include interviews with British, French and German eyewitnesses
telling the true stories of different parts of the evacuation as
depicted in that evening's drama.
testimonies allow viewers to hear first hand accounts of living
through the evacuation of Dunkirk.
People's War website www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2
- which is gathering the public's stories of World War II - will
also be devoted particularly to people's personal stories of Dunkirk
will also be documentaries on BBC TWO and BBC FOUR supporting the
- a few facts
the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview,
the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well
as on satellite and cable.
offers the BBC's eight television channels, interactive services
from BBCi, as well as 11 national BBC radio networks.