A+E NetworksUK has partnered with ZDF Studios on U-Boat War Gamers (w/t), to be produced by World Media Rights.

The series will premiere in the UK on Sky History in February 2023, and on The History Channel in Eastern Europe, Poland, Nordics, Middle East, South Africa, Italy and Germany next year.

Produced by World Media Rights, U-Boat War Gamers (w/t) tells the story of Gilbert Roberts, Jean Laidlaw and the Women’s Royal Navy Service (WRNS) – aka the ‘Wrens’ – as they use revolutionary war gaming tactics to defeat Admiral Karl Dönitz and his Wolf Pack fleets of U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II.

January 1943: Admiral Karl Dönitz, head of the Nazis’ U-boat fleet, has brought Britain to the brink of starvation by ruthlessly destroying close to a thousand of their merchant ships. If the transatlantic shipping route is cut off, the Allies will lose their last foothold in Western Europe.

The Royal Navy turns to retired war gamer Gilbert Roberts. Roberts is to use war gaming to try to decipher and combat Dönitz’s tactics. To do this, he needs a team, but the Navy can’t spare any men. Instead, he risks the ridicule of high command by turning to the Women’s Royal Navy Service (WRNS) to war game the U-boats’ tactics. In partnership with Jean Laidlaw, one of Britain’s first female chartered accountants, and a small team of resourceful female mathematicians, Roberts acts out naval battles and games the U-boats’ moves on a linoleum floor, using chalk and wooden model ships.

Laidlaw and the Wrens decipher Dönitz’s tactics and develop a method by which the Navy’s destroyers can infiltrate the Wolf Packs and pick off the U-boats one by one. Their ingenuity will ensure the Allies prevail in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The Wrens were some of the greatest war gamers of their generation, but their legacy has largely been ignored. Now the story of these forgotten war gamers can be told, in a UK premiere series narrated by Emmy and Bafta-winning actor Sir Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius, Hamlet, Gladiator).

Dan Korn, vp Programming at A+E Networks UK said: “We’re delighted to partner with ZDF Studios and World Media Right to secure this highly sought-after and accomplished series which embodies our mission at Sky History to share stories that matter. It tells a truly fascinating story about an unheralded group of female servicewomen in World War II, without whom the Allies could never have won the Battle of the Atlantic”.

U-Boat War Gamers (w/t) was produced by UK indie World Media Rights for ZDF in Germany and Curiosity Stream in the USA. Alan Griffiths is series executive producer for World Media Rights.

Alan Griffiths added: “We have long wanted to tell this story of the women war gamers of the Royal Navy. Using World Media Rights’ proprietary software, we now have the CGI techniques which allow us to recreate the battles between the U-boats and the Royal Navy’s destroyers in the North Atlantic. So U-Boat War Gamers is both realistic and cinematic. This software won us the Broadcast Best Tech innovation last year.”

U-Boat War Gamers (w/t) will be distributed by ZDF Studios of Germany.


Pippa Considine

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