Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Tovey about to blitz the airwaves again

Rare images show the horror and bravery of The Blitz in full colour

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER 7th September 2010


Rarely seen images in colour display the horror and bravery experienced by millions during the Blitz.

These pictures show just some of the moments that will reignite memories for Brits who lived through terrifying raids and give a unique insight to those too young to experience or remember it.

On the week of the 70 year anniversary of the Blitz these shots, from an explosive new ITV documentary 'Words of the Blitz', bring the horrifying series of German air attacks on the UK to life, with scenes of wartime British cities in moving colour images.

Seven top British actors including Dominic West, Sheila Hancock and Steven Berkoff will read the diaries and letters of men and women fearing for relatives, watching neighbours' homes obliterated by German bombs and swathes of Luftwaffe aircraft sweeping overhead during shocking raids.

Hearing the words of teenagers, a woman in love, fire-fighters responding to attacks, nurses treating the injured and dying, and senior government officials will offer viewers a rare and heart-rending glimpse into the deep personal impact of the terrifying air raids.

The cast of actors will also be joined by other readers including a Bomb Disposal Officer recently returned from the war in Afghanistan, and by Blitz survivors reading their own accounts first hand.

Accompanying the words that describe living through the Blitz in fear, and sometimes in excitement, are the incredible sights of London city being slowly crippled by WWII.

Scenes from outside the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral show a sight that is hard to believe.

With the shadow of the huge dome in the foreground, utter devastation fills the camera with several buildings flattened by German bombs.

Director Paul Copeland said: 'We wanted to make the war real.

'We want to show people that this really happened in Britain, to real Brits and not just people speaking in funny accents and in black and white.

'Having this colour footage that most people have never seen before was a way to achieve that. It leaves you in no doubts that just 70 years ago London and other targets in Britain were being repeatedly attacked and parts of it were devastated.

'There are several images of the Blitz that are used over and over. We wanted to use material that was fresh and gives a new perspective.'

The footage took months to assemble and was pieced together through old archives.

Copeland added: 'It's amazing how much footage is still turning up in old archives and attics.

'Having looked through all this colour footage, I now travel through London and every time I see some old Victorian terraces with a modern building in the middle, it makes me realise that a bomb must have landed there.

'Every time I see a big glass building in the middle of an old block, it's very likely it was a Blitz bomb. It's incredible to think that. The history of the Blitz is all around us.'

Other moments captured on camera are the thousands of Brits rushing to defend their country.

Volunteering to become air raid wardens to signal forthcoming attacks and firemen to deal with the outbreak of fires or pull their countrymen from the rubble of collapsed buildings, lines of men are seen marching together in unison before being given their roles.

Also brought to life are the words describing the moment Hitler launched the biggest air raid in history on September 7, 1940, as 350 enemy bombers escorted by 600 fighters head to pulverise London.

Teenager Colin Perry, whose diary is narrated by Russell Tovey, described the astonishing sight as the colossal raid headed towards the city over Surrey.

He likens the mesmerising formations of fighters swarming around their bombers to 'bees around their queen'.

Describing the attack that followed - pounding the city's docks and killing 400 Londoners - is Romola Garai reading from the diary of Joan Wyndham, then 18 and living in Chelsea.

She said: 'Tonight the Blitz started. We saw four bombs fall on Kensington High Street. The sky over by the docks was red, as if it was an enormous sunset. The bombs are lovely. I think it's all thrilling.'

Unknown to Joan, the German bombers would return again and again, leading to over eight months of sustained air raids on Britain that almost brought the country to its knees.

The Blitz lasted until May 10, 1941and saw Britain sustain prolonged periods of heavy bombing by the Nazi Germany air forces in several phases of intensity.

Hitler intended to demoralise the country before launching an invasion using his naval and ground forces.

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