Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
Episode 1, Monday 5 September
Britain's Wartime Evacuees (Evacuation)
Melvyn Bragg travels to Torquay to meet former evacuees of the largest mass movement of people in British History – the Forties Wartime Evacuation. Derek Capel gives a harrowing account of losing his younger brother after being put on different boats when the evacuee ship, the S.S City of Benares was torpedoed; and Kitty Capitelli from London is transported back more than 70 years to relive her time as an evacuee when she, like thousands of other children, was separated from her parents and made to work day and night for her foster family.
Gordon Abbott from Milton Keynes describes how his life changed for the better, when he went from city boy to farmer's son after being moved from Battersea to Bude at the age of seven. Bunty Tait, tells her story of running away from her foster family in Wigan age 11 to make a 200 mile journey back home to Surrey with her younger sister and finally Melvyn speaks to EastEnder's star Derek Martin about his evacuation and life in the London Blitz.
Episode 2, Tuesday 6 September
Britain's First Teenagers (Teenagers)
In London's Soho, Melvyn Bragg looks back at the Fifties to a time when Britain broke free of the burdens of the Second World War and the teenager was born. From Wee Willie Harris, an original Fifties rocker to musician and Teddy boy Raye Du-Val, Melvyn speaks to the people who remember when rock 'n' roll exploded into their lives and changed them forever.
Teenage heart throb Marty Wilde talks about his days as a Fifties pop star and life-long friends Molly Lowton and Jennie Prescott relive their younger, carefree days watching footage of a dance from their home town of Standish, near Wigan. Adrian Harding, Brian Mott and Tony Benson who all appeared in the film We Are The Lambeth Boys in 1959, are reunited by The Reel History Of Britain production team and come face-to-face with their younger selves in the vintage mobile cinema.
Episode 3, Wednesday 7 September
Today Melvyn Bragg travels to the Museum of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment at Fulwood Barracks in Preston to look back to the First World War when mill workers, farmers and shop keepers answered the call to fight for King and Country. He'll meet the people whose relatives were torn apart by war, fought great prejudice to achieve incredible feats and were part of a generation wiped out on the fields of France. Roy Bliss from Sussex will recount the story of his uncle Percy who lied about his age in order to enlist and was one of thousands of men whose body was never recovered when he fell in 1916. Rita Humphrey from Kent will tell us about her remarkable uncle, Walter Tull, who overcame great prejudice to become the first black officer in the British Army. Also, Les Bond, Vanda Isherwood and Veronica Abbott's relatives all signed up to the infamous Accrington Pals battalion in 1915 and they'll explain the impact this, and other pals battalions like it, had on local communities when thousands of young men, all from the same area, were wiped out overnight.
Episode 4, Thursday 8 September
Britain's Black Diamonds (Coal Mining)
In this episode Melvyn travels to the Big Pit National Coal Museum in South Wales to look back to the Thirties, when the once booming British coal industry started to decline. He meets miners and their families from across the country who share their experiences of this most dangerous of occupations. Arthur Lewis first went down a South Wales Pit as a boy of 14 in 1935. Now 89, he reveals what working conditions were like for miners. David Bogg is transported back to the life he led as a young pony driver at the Woolley Colliery in South Yorkshire as he watches archive footage from this time. Vicky Stradling's personal connection to the Gresford Colliery disaster of 1934, one of the worst in mining history, reminds Melvyn of the dangers his own grandfather faced working underground. He travels 300 feet down a mineshaft for his own brief encounter at the coal face.
Episode 5, Friday 9 September
The Roaring Twenties
Melvyn travels to the magnificent Cliveden House in Berkshire, to rediscover life in the Roaring Twenties, a time when a group of bright young people created Britain's first cult of celebrity. He'll meet people from all over the country whose relatives experienced this time of glamour, excitement and excess, in a country still reeling from the horror of the First World War. Simon Blow describes his great uncle Stephen Tennant, the most flamboyant of the 24-hour party people and the head of the London glitterati, where image was everything. Lord William Astor will take Melvyn on a tour of Cliveden, his ancestral home, to share stories of his grandparents, Lady Nancy and Lord William Waldorf Astor, who, in the Twenties, threw parties which include Chaplin, Churchill and Ghandi on the guest lists. Also in this episode Martin Blaber, with the prompt of some extraordinary home footage remembers his uncle, Edwin Lee, who was head butler to the Astors for 44 years.
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