Britain's Greatest Generation

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Coming of Age

Series 1 - Episode 1 Coming of Age

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Review

Indomitable spirit. Stiff upper lip. Hard work and self-sacrifice. This profile from 2015 of the generation born in the first decades of the last century isn’t shy of laying it on thick but underneath the encomia is a series of life stories that are stirringly impressive without the hype.

We meet remarkably hale 110-year-old Vera Price, who remembers singing songs to wounded soldiers in the First World War. We hear how Johnny Johnson, one of the Dambuster airmen, had a brutal upbringing (“I got hidings galore”) while Diana Athill and Margaret Rhodes (the Queen’s cousin) recall enchanted childhoods. Sadly, for several contributors, these were their last interviews – a reminder that the testimony of this generation is precious.

Summary

The extraordinary stories of some of the British men and women who fought or lived through the Second World War, now in their nineties or older. The first episode looks at how national unity was tested in the 1920s and 30s with class conflict, soaring unemployment and widespread civil unrest, but despite these upheavals, those growing up in the inter-war years remember much that was positive about life in Britain at the time. When war broke out in 1939, the men and women of this generation were ready to risk their lives for their country, but the evacuation of the British Army from the beaches of Dunkirk was a wake-up call for those expecting a swift victory.

Cast & Crew

Director Steve Humphries
Editor Nick Maddocks
Producer Steve Humphries
Producer Nick Maddocks
Documentary History