Saving Lives at Sea

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Saving Lives at Sea

Series 5 - Episode 1



Withernsea, on the Yorkshire coast, has a small, tightly knit fishing community which turned out in force on a sunny July day when one of their own went missing in the bleak, cold and unforgiving North Sea.

The local RNLI lifeboat skipper has heard a mayday call from a vessel and an anguished cry of “Pete’s gone over the side!” Two helicopters and a host of local fishing boats join the lifeboats in a huge search. Eventually, one of the lifeboat crew spots a life ring bobbing in the water. It is empty.

It’s a tough start to a new series of the reliably excellent documentary that uses footage filmed by lifeboat crews. But much of the opening episode is devoted to the closeness of these crews and the support of their families, which is critical when a rescue has the worst outcome.

There’s also a remarkable rescue, filmed by an onlooker from the shore, when a lifeguard wades into roiling seas to pluck a 13-year-old boy to safety.


At Swanage lifeboat station, brothers Matt and Gavin, following in their father's footsteps, race to rescue a pair of novice paddleboarders before they are swept out into the busy shipping lanes. On the north east coast, the Withernsea crew scours the North Sea for a local fisherman and friend who is missing at sea, while in Blackpool, a volunteer's wedding day is interrupted by an urgent call for help.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Steven Mackintosh
Director Phil Broadhurst
Director Luke Proctor
Executive Producer Sarah Spencer
Series Producer Alex Raw