BBC Four, Monday 25th August at 8pm
Comedian and history buff AL MURRAY is joined by historian DAN SNOW, writer NATALIE HAYNES and film expert MATTHEW SWEET for a fresh look at a subject very close to his heart, the Great British war movie. This 60-minute round-table discussion looks at both the films themselves – from A Bridge Too Far, “pure unbridled history porn” but with some glaring errors exposed, to Zulu, which unlike many WW2 films wears its heart on its sleeve, a war film where, once the fighting is finished, the tough guys open their hearts, tear up, and say what they genuinely feel about the horror of it all – and uses them as a lens on British history, cultural attitudes and our changing views on conflict over the decades.
AL and his panel look at recurring themes including, the portrayal of the ultimate villain… the Nazis, from alluring female Gestapo interrogators, actors practically dipped in peroxide, to German officers with cockney accents (sorry SIR MICHAEL CAINE); hilarious special effects; super-reserved, often barmy ‘toff’ officers and their working class troops; propaganda-like speeches; and the quintessential ‘Britishness’ on display with stiff-upper-lips, loyalty, an unwavering code of conduct, cheery whistling in the bleakest situations and lashings of tea.
With dozens of clips from much-loved films including: Where Eagles Dare, the accuracy-indifferent classic where CLINT EASTWOOD takes on the entire German army with a couple of machine guns; arguably the best loved British war movie of all time, The Dam Busters, which effortlessly reinforces the British understanding that deep down we’re cleverer than the Boche; Carve Her Name With Pride, with its ass-kicking female lead; Went The Day Well, possibly the creepiest war movie ever made where, again, the women are the heroes; Saving Private Ryan, a genuine watershed moment for war films; and Escape To Victory, “The worst war movie ever,” starring the strangest ensemble cast ever assembled, SIR MICHAEL CAINE, SYLVESTER STALLONE, BOBBY MOORE and PELE… “nothing about this terrible film makes any sort of sense.”
All rounded off with nostalgic memories of Bank Holiday afternoons in front of the telly, AL and his guests will explore why the British are so obsessed with films about war-and most importantly perhaps what this says about us.
For more information please contact: Dan Lloyd at Avalon on: 020 7598 7222 or email: DanL@avalonuk.com
Notes to editors
About Liberty Bell
Liberty Bell Productions, formed in autumn 2002, specialises in the production of television documentaries and features, factual entertainment, current affairs, drama-documentary and youth programming. Productions include: Scrappers (BBC One), The Three Day Nanny (Channel 4), Al Murray’s German Adventure (BBC FOUR), Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory (Channel 4), Portillo on Thatcher: The Lady’s Not For Spurning (BBC FOUR), The Alastair Campbell Diaries (BBC TWO), Frank Skinner on George Formby (BBC FOUR), Three Men In A Boat (BBC TWO), The Grumpy Guides to… (BBC TWO), Grumpy Old Men (BBC TWO), Grumpy Old Women (BBC TWO), Why We Went to War (More 4), Real Life: Beating Breast Cancer (ITV1), The Meaning of Life (BBC ONE) and The Widow’s Tale (BBC TWO).
What the press has said about previous Liberty Bell productions:
“The Walkers and the rag-tag bunch of rough diamonds they employ make for grand telly.”
Ben Arnold, The Guardian
Portillo on Thatcher: The Lady’s Not For Spurning
“Gordon Brown and David Cameron should watch it. Tony Blair should get a hold of a tape and reflect on what might have been. Media bosses who only commission films if they portray politicians as corrupt and mad should take note also… I know people with only a passing interest in politics who were gripped.”
Steve Richards, The Independent
The Alastair Campbell Diaries
“Just as DVD extras allow you to see the human fallibility that lies behind the polished exterior of the finished film, Campbell’s diary fills in the engrossing trivia of off-stage politics… it is completely engrossing.”
Thomas Sutcliffe, The Independent
The Widow’s Tale
“This complex and moving film is one of the television highlights of the year so far.”
Andrew Male, The Sunday Times
Grumpy Old Men
“The whole programme put me into an uncharacteristically, seethingly good mood… Wonderful stuff”
A.A. Gill, The Sunday Times
Al Murray’s German Adventure
“Murray makes a fine TV historian: interested, articulate and knowledgeable…A breathless hour around a stunning, wintery Germany that will probably leave most viewers wanting more on everything…Al Murray would be our man for the job.”
Gabrial Tate, Times Out