BBC to mark 75th Anniversary of VE Day

The BBC today announced dedicated programming across television, radio and BBC iPlayer to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe.

Published: 29 April 2020

At the heart of the commemorations will be a special address from Her Majesty The Queen broadcast at 9pm - the exact time her father spoke to the nation three quarters of a century ago.

It will form the centrepiece of an evening event produced by BBC Studios Events and featuring some of Britain’s biggest talent including Katherine Jenkins, Adrian Lester and Beverley Knight. Presented by Sophie Raworth, the programme will culminate with the nation coming together to sing the iconic, and fitting, World War II favourite We’ll Meet Again.  Other highlights earlier in the day include a commemoration of Sir Winston’s Churchill’s historic address to the nation to announce the end of the war in Europe.

On radio, Jeremy Vine will discuss the pivotal moments that led to the end of the war in Europe on BBC Radio 2, and BBC Radio 3’s Words And Music will share fascinating diary extracts from 1945 with interludes of poetry and music themed around gratitude. On BBC Radio 4, Dr Rowan Williams on Sunday Worship will reminisce on the meaning of VE day to reflect on how our nation can rise to its present challenges, and BBC Radio 4 Extra will present an adaptation of Stephen Lowe’s Touched. BBC Local Radio will be asking the nation to come together by decorating their front windows with special bunting to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Tony Hall, Director General, says: “At a time when many are looking for unity and hope, the BBC will bring households together to remember the past, pay tribute to the Second World War generation, and honour our heroes both then and now.”

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Television

BBC One

VE Day 75: The Nation Remembers

At 11am on Friday 8 May, BBC One will lead a poignant two-minute silence to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. This national moment of remembrance will pay tribute to heroes of the past and present.

VE Day 75: The Announcement Of Victory

At 2.45pm BBC One will broadcast Sir Winston Churchill’s famous victory speech in which he addressed the nation to announce the end of the war in Europe, which he made from 10 Downing Street on 8 May 1945. Commemorating the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe while in these unprecedented times of lockdown, will give everyone in the UK an opportunity to come together, albeit virtually, to pay tribute to the Second World War generation and show our gratitude to them for their service and sacrifice during the war. This pre-recorded event will be broadcast on BBC One on the afternoon of 8May and will be presented by Sophie Raworth.

At the heart of the broadcast will be a specially created film to celebrate and remember Sir Winston Churchill’s famous radio address that he made to the nation at 3pm on VE Day. This will be a poignant and emotional piece, reminding both those who were there and subsequent generations of this monumental day in our history. Personal testimony will be read by well-known public figures and celebrities, which recall the VE Day celebrations and the memories of the time. Throughout the event, stirring music from military performers will evoke the wartime spirit and the joy that music could bring even in the darkest of days.

VE Day 75: The People’s Celebration

On BBC One at 8pm and in partnership with the Royal British Legion, Sophie Raworth will host a unique and unprecedented musical celebration for VE Day 75. VE Day 75: The People’s Celebration, will unite the nation in front of the television to salute our precious World War II generation.

Until the current Covid-19 crisis struck, there had been plans to stage celebratory events and street parties in every nation. Sadly, this has all had to be cancelled and the WWII generation, our golden generation, are at home in lockdown. We want to let them know that we have not forgotten the peace that they won for us, that we are thinking of them and that they are not alone, as well as cheering up the rest of the nation along the way.

Filmed in an iconic London location and featuring some of Britain’s biggest talent across the evening, stars will deliver unique versions of well-known songs from the 30’s and 40’s, we will hear much loved favourites such as Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs Of Dover and When The Lights Go On Again. The line-up includes Katherine Jenkins, Adrian Lester, Anton Du Beke, Shane Richie, Emma Barton, Beverley Knight, Helen George and Sharon D Clarke.

Throughout the show we will hear from the real stars of the night, the people who still remember that historic evening - Britain’s World War II generation. They will share their memories and photographs with us through specially recorded interviews produced in self-isolation on phones and FaceTime, their stories of pulling through the war and happiness on VE Day providing the narrative for the evening. 

And at the very heart of the show we will hear a special message from HM The Queen who will speak at 9.00pm – the exact time her father spoke to the nation three quarters of a century ago.

In a truly amazing finale, we will see the nation unite for a very special rendition of We’ll Meet Again as across the UK we all give thanks to our veterans and remember our loved ones.

It may seem an impossible task in these exceptional times, but with some ingenious technology and plucky determination we can unite as a country to celebrate VE Day as never before and lift our sprits in honour of our greatest generation.

The One Show

The One Show has a one hour special dedicated to VE Day. With the help of celebrity guests and exclusive performances they’ll be looking at how the nation is coming together to mark the day.

In addition, on the eve of VE day, BBC One will show Dame Vera Lynn: We’ll Meet Again, a reversion of Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th Birthday documentary.

BBC News will also provide coverage of the day’s events across TV, radio and online. And BBC Breakfast will help the nation celebrate VE day together.

VE Day: Remembering Victory 

On 8 May 1945 Churchill broadcast the long-awaited announcement that the war in Europe was over. Seventy-five years on some of Britain’s best-loved entertainers and broadcasters recall the jubilation of that unforgettable day.  At 9.10pm, BBC One will replay the extraordinary archive of celebrations all over Britain to bring back the memories as the Victory Generation tells its own story.

Antiques Roadshow VE Day Special

This special episode of Antiques Roadshow will trace the story of the Second World War through a series of objects seen on the Roadshow, culminating in the events of VE Day in 1945. Along the way, we will touch on some of the critical events of the war, ranging from the retreat of Dunkirk to the Blitz, the Dambusters Raid and D-Day. We will also feature first-hand testimony from those who were present on VE Day - including our own Henry Sandon, one of the Roadshow’s best-loved presenters.

In addition, on the eve of VE day, BBC One will show Dame Vera Lynn: We’ll Meet Again, a reversion of Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th Birthday documentary.

BBC Two

In the lead up to VE Day, BBC Two will show nostalgic archive programmes across the week including Dads Army, We're Doomed: The Making Of Dad's Army, Spitfire Women, Churchill (1995), Scotland's VE Day: Countdown To Victory, Home Front Heroes and Britain's Greatest Generation. New programming includes the film premiere of The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society and Lee Miller’s arts documentary, A Life On The Frontline.

In the daytime on BBC Two, films will include Odette (1950), Reach For The Sky (1956), Desert Fox (1951), The Wooden Horse (1950), The Man That Never Was (1956), The Eagle Has Landed (1976) and The Heroes Of Telemark (1965).

Radio

BBC Radio 2

Wake up to a special breakfast show with Zoe Ball as she commemorates VE Day as we join together to remember this momentous day in history.

It's the 75th Anniversary of VE Day and Zoe will be hearing stories from listeners who are veterans, family members and those celebrating the day.

Vera Lynn will be picking the songs for Pick Your Own Playlist and Zoe will also be speaking to Ginny (Vera Lynn's daughter) about her mothers life, experiences and memories.

David Dimbleby will be teaching us a lesson in history for the day’s home-schooling.

With the usual team of Tina Daheley and Richie Anderson, Zoe and the team have the best start to your morning. There's also a daily Pause For Thought as Zoe entertains the nation with fun for the family!

Dame Vera Lynn’s daughter, Virginia, has recorded a special message from her mother to the listeners. It will be broadcast this Friday in Radio 2’s VE Day programmes - Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, Jeremy Vine and We’ll Meet Again with Paddy O’Connell.

Jeremy Vine (12-2pm) will look back at the momentous occasion when the allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II. He’ll examine how the end of the conflict in Europe was marked at the time and how people are remembering it now.

At 8pm Paddy O'Connell will present 2 hours of nostalgic memories and music to mark this special day. All music will be chosen by the Radio 2 audience.

BBC Radio 3

Radio 3’s Words And Music (Sunday 10 May, 5.30pm) takes the theme of gratitude on VE Day weekend. Rory Kinnear and Pandora Colin read diary extracts from 1945, recalling visits to see the royal family waving from the balcony of Buckingham Palace and the pubs extending their licensing hours. There’s also an extract from Hadley Freeman’s House Of Glass recalling the Friendship Trains sent between America and France, laden with culturally significant gifts.

Gratitude to medical staff is much on our minds at the moment and Florence Nightingale was born 200 years ago on 12 May so she makes an appearance, as described by Lytton Strachey and immortalised in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem Santa Filomena, where he writes about how: ‘A lady with a lamp shall stand / In the great history of the land’. There are also poems of gratitude to our feline friends, for childhood piano lessons and the simple joys of a morning routine; as well as a thank you letter from Audrey Hepburn to the composer Henry Mancini. The soundtrack includes Beethoven, writing in thanks for the restoration of his health after illness, a very grateful Pharaoh created by Verdi and The Kinks, who are just thankful for The Days.

BBC Radio 4

For Radio 4’s Sunday Worship (10 May, 8.10am) Dr Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College Cambridge and former Archbishop of Canterbury, asks how our nation can rise to its present huge challenges as it seeks to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. The service is taking place as the country marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day and the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. VE commemorates victory on the battlefield after uncountable suffering and loss, but the 1945 Victory in Europe also marked the beginning of a social transformation, in health, education and housing.

Recently, we have seen another herculean national effort invoking the name of the nation's most famous nurse, who also forged her reputation and skills in a time of national crisis.  What are we building today? What does the moment require of us, not just in solidarity now but in the years to come, in shaping a more compassionate world? The service will be led by the Bishop of London and one-time Chief Nursing Officer Dame Sarah Mullally, who will speak about the significance of Florence Nightingale for NHS workers today. Producer: Andrew Earis.

To mark the legacy of WWII a 10-part series, Legacy Of War, begins on Radio 4 Wednesday 13 May at 9.30am. It will explore how the experiences of men and women who fought in or simply lived through the war have shaped family stories and conversations in subsequent generations. Producers: Kate Bissell and Martin Williams.

The Food Programme

As the UK marks a VE Day anniversary like no other, Radio 4’s The Food Programme looks back at wartime food and farming history and how it shaped the national diet - as well as finding out how the country is marking the 75th anniversary under lockdown.

BBC Radio 4 Extra

Radio 4 Extra marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day with an adaptation of Stephen Lowe’s Touched, Saturday 9 May at 06:00 (repeated 16:00). The haunting reality of post-war life for three sisters in Nottingham in the 100 days between VE and VJ Days. Originally broadcast in 1985, starring Sian Thomas, Joanne Pearce, Sara Mair-Thomas and Mary Wimbush.

BBC Local Radio

BBC Local Radio is asking the nation to come together by decorating their front windows with special bunting to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. In a fitting tribute to the men and women of WWII, the VE Day bunting can be proudly displayed alongside children’s beautiful rainbow pictures for the NHS frontline heroes of today. A bunting template pack can be downloaded online. Everyone is being asked to show off their bunting displays on social media using the hashtags #GreatBritishBunting and #VEDay75.

Nations

BBC Scotland

BBC Scotland news programmes will look back at how Scotland celebrated VE Day in 1945 as well as interview WWII veterans who fought in the war. With most official events cancelled, BBC Scotland will cover the creative and innovative ways people commemorate the 75th anniversary virtually.

BBC Northern Ireland

BBC Northern Ireland will be running a range of features and packages across TV, Radio and online to mark VE Day on 8 May.

BBC Wales

BBC Radio Wales have a special programme with Carol Vorderman in which she looks at stories from the past and celebrates the work of the armed forces today on Friday 9 May. Carol will be encouraging listeners to get in touch with their military connections and how they will be commemorating this special anniversary of VE Day during lockdown. And the programme will conclude with a special performance of The Last Post performed on the bugle by Andrew Jones, Sergeant in the Regimental Band of the Royal Welsh.

And on BBC Radio Cymru Dewi Llwyd’s enlightening series, Cenhedlaeth y Rhyfel (The War Generation) will be broadcast in three parts during the day.

Children's

Bitesize

BBC Teach Bring The Noise, in collaboration with the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, has launched an online singing and music education activity to inspire children aged 4 to 7 to learn new music-making skills to commemorate VE Day 75. Whether at home with family or with teachers at school or working virtually, children can learn to sing along and perform the bespoke Bring the Noise campaign song Take You Home, and reflect on the impact that leaving, missing and coming home had on those who served and their loved ones. See more here.

Newsround

CBBC’s Newsround will see its viewers sit down with their older relatives to discuss their memories of the day, what happened, what it meant to them and how it made them feel.

BBC World Service

Witness History Week

From Monday 4 to Friday 8 May, Witness History will be looking back at May 1945 and the end of the Second World War in Europe. The programmes will explore how an exhibition curated by Hannes Heer marked a turning point in Germany’s reassessment of its Nazi past, reveal first-hand accounts recalling Adolf Hitler’s death, document post-war negotiations between leaders, and feature a very personal interview with a German woman about her experiences under Soviet occupation. On Friday 8 May, Witness History Week will feature a special compilation of BBC reports from VE Day throughout the years.

Spitfire: The People’s Plane

The BBC World Service is marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day with a new 10-part podcast and radio series charting the extraordinary story behind the Spitfire plane. Presented by English actor Tuppence Middleton, Spitfire: The People’s Plane will tell the astonishing story of how the beautiful and deadly icon of resistance was built against the odds by ordinary people across Britain after the Spitfire factory was repeatedly bombed.

BBC Archive

The BBC Archive will use its social media feeds and online site to remind audiences of how VE Day unfolded as it happened. Using recordings and images from the day it will start from the early morning as celebrating crowds grew outside Buckingham Palace and conclude with reaction to the King’s speech at the moment the war in Europe officially came to an end. There will also be a special VE Day themed edition of BBC Memory Radio, our dementia friendly radio programme, made in partnership with the BBC Local Radio network available on BBC Sounds.