Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
Award-winning film-maker Mark Dowd goes in search of the real Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI – a man who was the darling of liberals in the Second Vatican Council but who is now the champion of traditionalists.
This journey takes Mark from the papal homeland of Bavaria to the heart of the Vatican itself. He explores how the current clerical abuse crisis has dogged the Pope's mission to combat Western secularism. The programme also features a rare interview with the Pope's brother, Georg Ratzinger, who tells the BBC how his brother has been affected by recent scandals.
Mark also profiles the attempts of the Church here in the UK to fashion a positive message about Pope Benedict by training up an army of young religious spin doctors called Catholic Voices.
The BBC's Battle Of Britain Season, marking the 70th anniversary of the most significant air battle in British history, begins with First Light, an intimate drama-documentary that the extraordinary story of Geoffrey Wellum, one of the battle's youngest spitfire pilots.
Wellum was just 18 when he was thrown into combat as a fighter pilot at the beginning of the battle. Seventy years on and aged 89, he is still haunted by the conflict that almost destroyed him.
Based on Geoffrey's personal and deeply moving memoirs, First Light delivers a compelling testimony of his wartime experiences, revisiting the stark emotions and fiery action that dazzled and terrified him as a young man and which changed his life for ever. It is the story of a boy who went to war, and who came back a broken man.
In the summer of May 1940, Geoffrey "Boy" Wellum, driven by his love of flight and a desire to defend his country, joins the RAF's most famous "fighter boys": No. 92 Squadron. Barely out of school and with just a few hours flight training, he has never seen a spitfire close up, let alone flown one.
But no one has time to teach Boy the art of war; the squadron is fighting for survival and he must find his own way through the tension on the ground and the battle he must soon join in the air. As he is plunged into combat, he discovers that the real enemy is not the Luftwaffe but the forces of despair that threaten to overwhelm him. As the death toll rises, Boy withdraws into himself and pushes away those who care for him – even Grace, the love of his life, cannot save him from the darkness that fills his heart.
Thrown time and again into a vortex of terrifying noise, stark emotions and fiery combat, Boy – like those around him – reaches breaking point.
After 18 months on the front line he is a boy who has lost his youth in the most violent and immediate way possible; his spirit broken by a merciless world of kill or be killed. No longer caring whether he lives or dies, he can only be saved by the action of his superiors – who know that if he continues to fly he will face certain death.
Through Wellum's compelling first-person testimony, intense drama and cutting-edge CGI and real-time spitfire flying sequences, First Light evokes a period of great personal sacrifice and the claustrophobic horror of the fighter pilot's cockpit – where terror lurked in every cloud.
Geoffrey Wellum is played by Sam Heughan and Grace by Tuppence Middleton.
First Light is simulcast on the BBC HD channel – the BBC's High Definition channel, available through Freesat 108, Freeview 50, Sky 143 and Virgin 108.
The third film in the series offering an insight into one of the most important and stressful decisions a family can make – which secondary school to send their child to – attempts a bold, same day multi-camera experiment, following several of the children on their first day at their new schools.
With unique access to five schools on their biggest day of the year, cameras will capture the experience of the children from the start of the day until they travel home to their nervously waiting parents. Filming at very different schools across Birmingham – from the best grammar school (ranked number 10 in the country), to a new improving Academy that was once rated the second worst school in the country, to the comprehensive where a police officer is sited permanently in an on-site portable building – each of the children will go through this milestone in their own unique way.
Thomas got his preferred choice of school and, although he's thrilled, he's never been on a bus before on his own so it's a big day of first experiences.
Saffiyah is over the moon to have made it into Birmingham's best girls' grammar school and it's likely to be an emotional day too for dad Mohammed, who gave her extra tuition.
Mohsin's family were initially disappointed he did not get into Birmingham's top grammar school but are now happy he's going to a school they believe combines the importance of English tradition with their ethos of hard work.
For Jamiah, there was a difficult few days before he got into his favourite school, which was once notorious and failing but is now making huge strides to change results and perceptions.
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