Content Kings’ eight-part series follows the stories of eight remarkable warships. Once titans of the sea, they now litter the seabed. The series explores the fates of the vessels and those who served on them through archive, modern graphics, and interviews and analysis.

Jason Davidson, Director, explains the making of the series

The 20th century saw some of the most destructive naval engagements in history. Massive fleets, comprising hundreds of thousands of men and women, participated in colossal naval clashes across various oceans, ranging from the Arctic Sea to the South Pacific. Enormous battleships, alongside aircraft carriers, submarines, and destroyers, engaged in conflicts, serving as symbols of a nation’s global influence. These warships, evolving with each generation, became increasingly powerful and sophisticated, eliciting a mix of awe and terror.

However, many of these maritime giants met their demise. Naval warfare constantly evolved, rendering once groundbreaking vessels obsolete. Gunfire, torpedoes, and bombs led to the destruction of these ships, often resulting in catastrophic loss of life.

As an expert in naval history with a passion for telling the stories of ships and sailors from conflicts past, I’ve had the privilege of directing in-depth documentary series like Content Kings’ “Secrets Of The Lost Liners” and more recently, “Sunken Warships: Secrets From The Deep,” exploring some of the most fascinating tales from our naval past. Here, I share the journey of creating “Sunken Warships.”

This 8-part Channel 5 series delves into the destinies of these remarkable vessels and the individuals who served on them. Using rarely seen archival footage, modern graphics, and featuring exclusive interviews and analysis, “Sunken Warships: Secrets from the Deep” narrates epic tales of bravery and hubris, triumph and disaster.

My connection to history 

Both myself and my business partner Peter Roch have always been inspired by history. My own academic journey, including both my Master’s and Undergraduate dissertations, focused on the Royal Navy in the First World War. Growing up with stories from my grandfather, who served on a Destroyer during World War Two, fueled my keen interest in naval history. When myself and Pete started making films with a borrowed camera and nonexistent budgets, the stories we told were of people’s connections to their history, whether the story of a soldier’s lost grave in Shanghai, or a town’s deep emotional connection to a factory wall listed for demolition. This strong passion for storytelling and authentic historical narratives was something we were determined to bring to the series.

Balancing depth and scope

Creating a series of this scope presented both rewards and challenges. With each ship having such a rich history spanning battles, operations and crew experiences around the world, deciding what to include within the constraints of a 45-minute television runtime was tough. Careful consideration was given to balancing key events with personal anecdotes and archival materials to craft immersive, engaging stories without becoming a list of facts and dates. Months of research went into each episode, in terms of the script writing, preparing the questions for the contributors and of course, sourcing the archival footage.

Honouring lives, telling stories

I feel a great responsibility in terms of making these stories because people are telling you very personal things or stories about their relatives. And so we’ve got to respect that and do our very best to tell that story in a way that is engaging to the audience but respects their memory.

Acknowledging the responsibility to tell these stories with sensitivity, we engaged with experts from diverse backgrounds, ensuring an inclusive and even-handed narrative. Collaborating with crew associations, such as HMS Exeter and HMS Barham provided unique insights into the lives of those who served. We explored not only the commands and technical aspects but also the ordinary individuals, like Norman Schofield, whose firsthand accounts painted a vivid picture of life at service.

It’s particularly poignant when working with families who, in the absence of those who served, are dedicated to keeping their stories alive. Collaborating with them allowed us to contribute to the ongoing legacy of these ships and the men who served on them.

Highlights from the depths 

The first four episodes we’ve aired so far have been well received. The majority of our focus is on ships from World War Two. However, we’ve made an effort to include some stories from the 20th century that go beyond that. One intriguing tale is that of the USS Scorpion, a cutting-edge nuclear-powered submarine that mysteriously vanished in the late 60s. The challenge in locating it was like finding a needle in a haystack, lost in the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. A team set out to find the boat on the seabed, pushing the limits of maritime technology at the time. Their success in uncovering the remains of the vanished submarine, and of the theories behind the Scorpion’s mysterious loss,  is a remarkable story.

When asked what my favourite episode was, I’d probably say HMS Edinburgh: The Ship of Gold. For centuries, explorers have looked for gold in shipwrecks but there has never been a treasure trove as valuable or difficult to find as the ship lost in the Barents Sea in 1941. British light cruiser HMS Edinburgh was assigned the mission of escorting an Arctic convoy to the Soviet Union. But on her trip home, filled with Russian gold, the warship was attacked by a German U-boat. Edinburgh’s fight for survival and recovery operation decades later tells a forgotten story of bravery.

What made the episode so special was it featured an eyewitness account from Mike O’Meara, who was part of the team that recovered gold from the wreck. Hearing his first-hand experience of people emerging from the diving bell and seeing the wreck in the distance was an incredible moment. We were also able to use archival footage from a 1981 documentary which showed the moment the gold was recovered which was critical to telling the story.

I’m proud that Content Kings has produced a program paying due respect to history while keeping viewers entertained. There remains so much more to uncover, and I look forward to viewers learning more incredible true stories from the seas in the final four instalments.

The next four episodes are set to air on Channel 5, but for those looking to catch up, you can watch them on My5 at

Jon Creamer

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