Friday 8th May marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the long-awaited moment when fighting stopped on the European battlefields of the Second World War.
While the 2020 May bank holiday was moved to mark this event, and many towns and cities across the UK had street parties and celebrations planned, the day itself will now be a toned down affair in light of the lockdown.
But you can always rely on the TV to help you mark an important event, and VE Day is no exception. So get your bunting up at the window and stick the telly on.
Here’s our guide to the special programming across the bank holiday weekend, designed to mark the occasion.
Thursday 7th May
Dame Vera Lynn: We’ll Meet Again, BBC One, 7.30pm
To kick off their extensive VE Day programming, the BBC presents a refreshed version of this special documentary about the nation’s WW2 sweetheart. Initially broadcast in 2017 to mark Dame Vera’s 100th birthday, the show celebrates her career, telling the story of her early days in showbusiness and revealing how she became such a popular singing sensation, entertaining our troops and inspiring everyone at home. Includes archive footage and interviews with Dame Vera, looking back on an amazing life.
Friday 8th May
Two minute’s silence, 11am
It’s traditional to have a minute’s silence to remember those who fought for us. There will be a two minute silence to reflect on the impact Covid-19 has had on people across the world.
Royal British Legion Livestream – 11.15am
The RBL Livestream will bring together those who experienced WW2 and those generations after.
VE Day: The Nation Remembers, BBC One, 11am
While VE Day offers lots of reasons to celebrate, it’s important to remember the heroes who fought for our freedom but didn’t live to see peacetime. At 11am, BBC One will mark a two-minute silence, a moment of remembrance in which we can all pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
VE Day 75: The Announcement of Victory, BBC One, 2.45pm
This is a chance to hear Winston Churchill’s stirring victory speech once again, when he addressed the British people from Downing Street and announced that war was over in Europe. The famous moment in history will be broadcast again alongside a specially created film.
Toast to heroes of World War Two, BBC One, 3pm
People will head outside to their doorstep and toast those who fought with: “To those who gave so much, we thank you.”
Scotland’s VE Day: Countdown to Victory, BBC Two, 3.45pm
Originally shown in 2005, this programme tells the story of Scottish veterans, who discuss the final days of conflict and their incredible stories of endurance during a long war. They talk of their long wait for German surrender and the joy of VE Day when it finally came.
VE Day: Countdown to Peace, Yesterday, 5pm
This lovingly made documentary boasts carefully restored footage from London, Paris and New York, showing celebrations in colour. As well as telling the story of the days leading up to Winston Churchill’s announcement of peace, it reflects on VE Day itself, and features new interviews with people who lived through those special moments.
The One Show, BBC One, 7pm
Alex Jones presents a special episode of The One Show, paying tribute to our WW2 heroes and celebrating the spirit of VE Day. As usual, she’ll be joined by guests and will present some special films across the course of the show.
VE Day: The Lost Films, Channel 5, 7pm
Imagine the jubilation on the streets when peace was finally declared in Europe. This collection of rarely-seen clips from amateur film-makers captures the mood in Britain on that historic day in 1945. While lots of VE Day programming will feature people talking about that day, this real footage transports us there to see it for ourselves. Moments of fun and elation include fancy dress parades, sports matches, bands playing, piggy-back races and kisses in Trafalgar Square.
Captain Tom’s War, ITV, 8pm
He’s the nation’s hero, so it’s no surprise that ITV has commissioned a special programme about fundraiser Captain Tom Moore. In this one-off documentary, the much-loved army veteran will share his memories of serving alongside Allied Troops in Burma, fighting Japan during WW2. Featuring contributions from 100-year old Tom and his daughters, Lucy and Hannah, the programme will shine a light on what is often called ‘The Forgotten War’ – brutal battles fought much further afield than Europe.
VE Day 75: The People’s Celebration, BBC One, 8pm
Presented by Sophie Raworth, this is the big entertainment event of the night, put on by the BBC and the Royal British Legion to show thanks to our veterans. Stars will celebrate the happy events of 1945 with popular songs from the era, culminating in a rousing rendition of We’ll Meet Again at 9pm, which the whole country is encouraged to sing along to. The full line-up for The People’s Celebration will include Katherine Jenkins, Adrian Lester, Anton Du Beke, Beverley Knight, Helen George, Sharon D Clarke, Shane Richie and Emma Barton.
Address by the Queen, BBC One, 9pm
The Queen will have her pre-recorded speech broadcast at the same time her father King George VI gave his radio address on 8th May, 1945.
Tony Robinson’s VE Day: Minute by Minute, Discovery, 9pm
This documentary, fronted by the Blackadder star, takes a forensic look at 24 hours that changed the world and tells the story of a nation waking up to peace. Veterans share their memories and historians explain how the momentous day unfolded using unseen archive footage.
VE Day: Remembering Victory, BBC One, 9.10pm
While VE Day is a triumphant moment in the history books for many of us, for others it is a real memory from their lifetimes. This documentary, narrated by Julie Walters and first shown for the 70th anniversary in 2015, asks famous faces to share their recollections from that special day, including David Attenborough, for whom the day fell on his 19th birthday, Michael Parkinson, John Craven, Anne Reid, Patrick Stewart and Honor Blackman. The show also features archive footage of the celebrations on the streets of Britain.
Saturday 9th May
VE Day in Colour: Britain’s Biggest Party, C4, 7pm
There’s something so much more engaging about colour footage, and this documentary helps us feel the excitement of VE Day with restored clips, previously unseen archive films and new interviews. The show aims to reflect a wide range of experiences – from the jubilant street parties to those who spent the day thinking of loved ones who didn’t survive to see the armistice.
Sunday 10th May
Antiques Roadshow VE Day special, BBC One, 7.15pm
The perfect way to round off a commemorative weekend. Fiona Bruce hosts a special episode of everyone’s favourite antiques programme, looking back at some of the items brought along to the roadshow that hold wartime memories. The show also features interviews with contributors who were present on VE Day, including popular AR presenter, Henry Sandon.
More details about all VE Day programming can be found in our TV Guide or to learn more about today we have our VE Day Facts page.