The BBC’s Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual, Jack Bootle has ordered a special from Hardcash Productions, Britain’s Nuclear Test Veterans (w/t), the story of Britain’s post-war atomic weapons programme and the devastating consequences for the thousands of service personnel who took part.

The film reveals the extent of the British government’s nuclear tests in remote parts of Australia and the South Pacific in the 1950s and 60s, exposing the debilitating health conditions that have blighted the lives of some of the veterans, descendants and indigenous population ever since.

Skin cancers, tumours, heart disease, leukaemia, stillbirths and generational birth defects are amongst the catalogue of crippling medical disorders suffered by some of the servicemen and their children. They’ve campaigned for decades for recognition and to have their voices heard.

This powerful film raises questions about the haunting legacy and shattering human costs of Britain’s race to become a global nuclear power.

Britain’s Nuclear Test Veterans (wt), a 1×60’ for BBC Two and iPlayer, is made by Hardcash Productions. It was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual. The Executive Producer is Esella Hawkey and it is Filmed, Produced and Directed by Simon Rawles. The Commissioning Editor is Simon Young, Head of Commissioning, History

“There is a white flash. You could never, ever describe the depth of brilliance or intensity of this white light. Even though my fists were clenched and pushed into my eyes, I could see all the bones and tendons and blood lines. Like a living x-ray.” (British veteran posted to Christmas Island, 1958)

Read more about the BBC’s history and science commissioning in the new Summer issue of Televisual, out this week.

And an interview with Jack Bootle can be found here.


Pippa Considine

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