Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

BBC Documentaries commissions two new films

 A veteran soldier places a bunch of flowers on the bonnet of Ranger Aaron McCormick's hearse.

Charlotte Moore, Commissioning Editor, Documentaries, has today announced two new films that will explore recent stories that have captured the nation's imagination.

In Wootton Bassett – The Town That Remembers for BBC One, acclaimed director Henry Singer (The Falling Man) follows the community of Wootton Bassett over one day, meeting those that regularly come together in a now routine ceremony that sprang out of the town's spontaneous efforts to honour the UK's war dead.

And in 17 Days Buried Alive for BBC Two, BAFTA-winner Angus Macqueen (Death Of Yugoslavia, Cocaine, Gulag) gains exclusive access to six of the Chilean miners and explores the almost unimaginable experience of the men who spent 17 gruelling days completely cut off from the outside world, faced with the prospect of a slow and torturous death, before contact was established with them.

Charlotte Moore says: "These two stories have really captured the imagination of the British people. Everyone was glued to their TV screens when the miners were finally rescued, and the recent news that Wootton Bassett is to receive a rare "Royal" title demonstrates how the spontaneous actions of a small town have come to embody an entire nation's grief. I can't think of two better filmmakers than Henry and Angus to give BBC viewers a unique insight into these fascinating stories of our time."

For 17 days following the collapse of the mining tunnel in Chile last year nobody knew whether the miners trapped 2,000 feet underground were dead or alive, and the miners didn't know if they would ever be rescued. They made a pact not to talk of what happened down below, but now six have spoken.

Faced with temporary blindness, extremely limited food supplies and the horror of silence, they grappled with existential questions most people can't conceive of. 17 Days explores the personal responses of the miners – the fear, the madness and the sheer determination that led to their dramatic rescue.

Angus Macqueen says: "I was one of the 1.5 billion television audience that watched their amazing rescue. And from that moment I dreamt of being allowed to explore their experience and tell their story."

In Wootton Bassett – The Town That Remembers, Henry Singer joins the residents of the now famous town at daybreak on November 19 2010 as they prepare for the repatriation of Ranger Aaron McCormick, whose coffin is flown to RAF Lyneham before being driven through the small Wiltshire town. The film unravels the unique chain of events that occur in the build-up to each repatriation ceremony and meets the key people who have shaped it.

Contributors include Big Steve, a motorbike-driving veteran who leads the Riders Branch of the Royal British Legion at each event; Ken, a 94-year-old Second World War veteran who lost comrades in that conflict; and Lee, the mother of a marine who was killed in Afghanistan. Their experiences tell the story of Wootton Bassett's tributes through the years and also explore how people have grieved and remembered the war dead across different wars and generations.

Henry Singer says: "What Wootton Bassett – The Town That Remembers shows us is that the idea of a community can really mean something. As a filmmaker, it was a privilege to be able to observe the lengths that the people of Wootton Bassett, and others from outside the town, regularly go to honour British servicemen."

Wootton Bassett – The Town That Remembers was commissioned by Charlotte Moore and executive produced by Julian Mercer for BBC Productions, Bristol.


17 Days Buried Alive was commissioned by Charlotte Moore and is produced by Ronachan Films.


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