BBC Four to examine Britain and the Sea


BBCA brand new documentary on BBC Four will look at the British relationship with the Sea as part of a new season of programming on the digital channel which looks at how our nature has the been shaped by the sea.  

BBCA major new season of programmes on BBC Four will look at the crucial ways in which the sea has helped to shape modern Britain.  Sea Fever – The Story Of Britain And The Sea will focus on maritime history, culture, economics and science and will coincide with a new exhibition at the National Maritime Museum.


The flagship series in the season will be White Sails And Grey Mist: The Story Of The Sea (working title), three programmes that combine amateur film archive, most of which has never before been seen on television, with fascinating tales of our relationship with the sea – how we have enjoyed it, how we have fished it and how we have survived its dangers. The series will provide viewers with an intimate insight into the role the sea has played in British life over the past one hundred years.



“With air flight and channel tunnels it might be easy to forget that Britain is a maritime nation surrounded by the sea. Britain always has been, and continues to be, influenced and shaped by her relationship with the sea – it is a constant in a changing world. Messing about in boats, the splash of cold salt water, the sturm und drang of the big sea, the harsh environment that is also beautiful, poetry, paintings and music – all these and more will be explored in Sea Fever.” – Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four



Other programmes in the season include: Shanties And Sea Songs with Gareth Malone, in which the choirmaster travels the length and breadth of the country to discover the rich heritage of Britain’s maritime songs – and the real life stories behind them; Timothy Spall – Somewhere At Sea, a mini-odyssey along the coast from Cornwall to Wales in the company of the actor and his wife on their Dutch barge; and The Boats That Made Britain, a six-part voyage through the history of British seafaring, putting the boats that made Britain great through their paces.



Alongside BBC Four’s celebration of the sea, the National Maritime Museum has arranged an exhibition to accompany The Boats That Made Britain  series. Based around the themes explored in the series, and drawing upon the Museum’s collection, the exhibition will look at the stories surrounding subjects such as the might of the British Navy and the 1805 Trafalgar victory, and the pivotal impact of the sea on the outcome of the Second World War. The Museum’s exhibition will be supported by two evening events showcasing programmes from the BBC season, a series of talks and lectures and a number of special family events.



“The Boats That Made Britain offers an excellent opportunity to look at Britain’s relationship with the sea through six iconic vessels. The boats that enabled us to explore the oceans, earn our living from the sea and ply our trade are a key part of our history. We are particularly excited about this exhibition and the BBC’s Sea Season as it touches on so many aspects of Britain’s maritime past and present and links to many of the subjects that are at the heart of the National Maritime Museum.” – Dan Matthews, Exhibitions Manager at the National Maritime Museum



The season will also delve into the science of the sea with Waves, a documentary exploring the passion that some scientists have for billows and breakers; The Box That Changed Britain will tell the story of how the advent of global container shipping brought huge change to Britain, transforming its ports, economy and society; the art and literature of the high seas will be revealed in two special programmes, Art Of The Sea: In Pictures and Art Of The Sea: In Words; and Dive, Dive, Dive! (working title) will celebrate the wonderful sub-genre of the submarine movie.


 Sea Fever – The Story Of Britain And The Sea will air on BBC Four in May.