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Portillo's Hidden History of Britain

  • Season 1
  • 4 episodes
  • Documentary
  • History
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Episode 2: Orford Ness: Defence of the Realm

Summary

On the Suffolk coast lie some of Britain's most mysterious ruins - concrete bunkers, rusting radar towers and crumpled military hardware. For almost a century, Orford Ness was owned by the Ministry of Defence, and when it closed in 1993, its buildings were still shrouded in secrecy. Michael Portillo explores a 90,000 sq ft windowless box code-named Cobra Mist, a joint UK-US venture built in 1968 that purportedly housed a huge aerial array to spy on Russian missile launches. He also examines Orford's apparent role as a testing centre for atomic weapons, including the first British atom bomb.
Recommended

Review

The former Secretary of State for Defence invades Orford Ness in Suffolk to explore the mysterious, formerly top-secret buildings that loom, like sinister sentries, over the local population. Cobra Mist, for instance, looks (and sounds) like a set from the 1960s incarnation of The Avengers.

Michael looks in his element as he explores the austere, windowless building by flashlight, thumbing through “classified” documents. Tales of death rays, espionage and a character called “the Lone Wolf of Fleet Street” make for an intriguing exposé. With Daniel Craig on his way out, perhaps this is Mr Portillo’s way of auditioning for Bond. Can you imagine?

How to watch

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Details

Formats
Colour

Credits

Cast

rolename
PresenterMichael Portillo

Crew

rolename
Executive producerJazz Gowans
Series directorRuairi Fallon
Series producerRuairi Fallon

All episodes

  • Episode 2

    Orford Ness: Defence of the Realm

    Summary

    On the Suffolk coast lie some of Britain's most mysterious ruins - concrete bunkers, rusting radar towers and crumpled military hardware. For almost a century, Orford Ness was owned by the Ministry of Defence, and when it closed in 1993, its buildings were still shrouded in secrecy. Michael Portillo explores a 90,000 sq ft windowless box code-named Cobra Mist, a joint UK-US venture built in 1968 that purportedly housed a huge aerial array to spy on Russian missile launches. He also examines Orford's apparent role as a testing centre for atomic weapons, including the first British atom bomb.
    Recommended

    Review

    The former Secretary of State for Defence invades Orford Ness in Suffolk to explore the mysterious, formerly top-secret buildings that loom, like sinister sentries, over the local population. Cobra Mist, for instance, looks (and sounds) like a set from the 1960s incarnation of The Avengers.

    Michael looks in his element as he explores the austere, windowless building by flashlight, thumbing through “classified” documents. Tales of death rays, espionage and a character called “the Lone Wolf of Fleet Street” make for an intriguing exposé. With Daniel Craig on his way out, perhaps this is Mr Portillo’s way of auditioning for Bond. Can you imagine?

    How to watch

    Loading

    Details

    Formats
    Colour

    Credits

    Cast

    rolename
    PresenterMichael Portillo

    Crew

    rolename
    Executive producerJazz Gowans
    Series directorRuairi Fallon
    Series producerRuairi Fallon
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