BBC Four Goes Nuclear
The BBC has today announced BBC Four Goes Nuclear - a season of programmes around the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima. The season leads with the one-off documentary, Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield, giving audiences unprecedented access to one of Britain’s most iconic nuclear facilities.
BBC Four Goes Nuclear will give our audiences a chance to contemplate the history and the extraordinary potential of our nuclear age.
Other programmes in the season include the film War Book, a chilling story of a war game between government officials, exposing the fragility of our everyday life and those who govern it in the face of nuclear attack; the documentary The Race For The World’s First Atomic Bomb: A Thousand Days Of Fear, which is an inside-the-barbed-wire story of the men and women who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos; while Storyville explores the complexity of nuclear power - from Chernobyl to Fukishima, to X-Rays and MRI scans - and the dread and the promise it can bring.
Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor for BBC Four, says: “BBC Four Goes Nuclear will give our audiences a chance to contemplate the history and the extraordinary potential of our nuclear age. We have unique access to Britain’s most renowned nuclear facility with the documentary Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield, alongside other captivating new and archive programmes for the channel. BBC Four Goes Nuclear will consider the nuclear age from all sides - its groundbreaking opportunities as well as its terrifying dangers. With BBC Four Goes Slow, Goes Pop and now Goes Nuclear, BBC Four is the destination for brave and surprising seasons.”
Jim Al-Khalili, pictured, on presenting Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield, says: “As a nuclear physicist, I found gaining such amazing access to somewhere as huge and important as Sellafield a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Little is known about Britain's nuclear industry so it's no wonder that the general public have tended to be so suspicious of it, sometimes with good reason. So telling the story of Britain’s nuclear history, both the past failures and the recent successes, is vital.”
Storyville: Atomic - Living in Dread and Promise
1 x 70, BBC Four
Tx: 9 August, 9pm TBC
Seventy years ago this month the bombing of Hiroshima showed the appalling destructive power of the atomic bomb. Mark Cousins’ bold new documentary looks at death in the atomic age, but life too. Using only archive film and a new musical score by the band Mogwai, Atomic shows us an impressionistic kaleidoscope of our nuclear times: protest marches, Cold War sabre rattling, Chernobyl and Fukishima, but also the sublime beauty of the atomic world, and how X Rays and MRI scans have improved human lives. The nuclear age has been a nightmare, but dreamlike too.
Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield
1 x 60, BBC Four
Tx: 10 August, 9pm TBC
Lying on the remote northwest coast of England is one of the most controversial places in Britain: the nuclear facility known as Sellafield. In this one-off documentary, BBC Four have been given unprecedented access to some of the country’s most secret buildings, revealing the extraordinary experiments, the jaw-dropping technology, and the costly science behind Britain’s attempts to harness the power of the atom.
Nuclear physicist Jim Al-Khalili uncovers the story of Sellafield: from the headlong rush to develop nuclear weapons and nuclear power to terrifying accidents, like the Windscale fire and leaks of radioactive material into the sea; from public opposition to the latest reprocessing techniques.
Jim examines the ways waste and spend fuel rods have been stored here over the last 70 years and the latest attempts to try and clean some of it up, from storage in vast open air ponds to encasing pieces of old reactors in concrete blocks. Jim looks at the latest efforts and considers whether, 65 years on we are any closer to a solution to the problem of nuclear waste.
And throughout the programme, Jim will conduct his own experiments, demonstrating the scientific discoveries that lie at the heart of Britain’s journey into the nuclear age.
1 x 95, BBC Four
Tx: 10 August, 10pm TBC
Tom Harper’s film War Book, written by Jack Thorne and starring Shaun Evans, Sophie Okonedo, Ben Chaplin, Kerry Fox and Anthony Sher, tells the story of a chilling war game between a group of government officials, exposing the fragility of our everyday lives and those who govern them.
War Book takes place over three days, as nine civil servants gather to take part in a policy-shaping scenario. They are there to take decisions on Britain’s reaction to an international nuclear attack. At first the participants are casual, playing out the scenario against a backdrop of their own petty squabbles and personal ambitions. Only two participants know the truth - that the country is secretly facing a real nuclear threat, and that their theoretical responses may become reality sooner than they can know.
As the scenario escalates and the group begins to address the breakdown of civil order, the reality that they are deciding the country’s future dawns. When personal politics crash irrevocably into the room, each is forced to look closely at what they really believe, and how much their decisions are actually worth.
The Race For The World’s First Atomic Bomb: A Thousand Days Of Fear
1 x 60, BBC Four
The Race For The World’s First Atomic Bomb: A Thousand Days Of Fear is the inside-the-barbed-wire story of the men and women who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. The fascinating personalities behind the creation of the world’s first atomic bomb were as extraordinary as the science they were working in. Through first-hand accounts, never-before-seen interviews, and Los Alamos lore, this documentary looks inside these atomic insiders’ hearts and minds, their triumphs and failures.