BBC One is to mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s state funeral with a one hour long documentary from Blakeway Productions presented by Jeremy Paxman.
Churchill: The Nation’s Farewell will tell the story of that momentous day, 30 January 1965, when Britain laid its most famous statesman to rest.
“Like most people who saw it – I was a schoolboy at the time – Churchill’s funeral made a huge impression on me. Fifty years on, I thought it was time to find out whether it was all that it seemed at the time. What was it that made Winston Churchill uniquely worthy of this spectacular send-off?” – Jeremy Paxman
The former Newsnight anchor will meet an array of people who were involved in the day’s events – from soldiers who bore the coffin, to members of Churchill’s family. He’ll also hear from Boris Johnson, author of a new book on Churchill, and from a London docker who recounts the misgivings some had about saluting the passing coffin with their cranes.
In exploring the legacy of Sir Winston’s extraordinary political life, Jeremy investigates what Churchill means to Britain today, half a century after our nation mourned the death of the man whom many still regard as Britain’s greatest statesman.
“It is BBC One’s unique role to mark important moments in our history, and Jeremy Paxman’s special documentary about the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral does just that.” Controller of BBC One, Charlotte Moore
Martin Davidson, Commissioning Editor, History, adds “Sir Winston Churchill is one of our greatest statesmen and this fascinating documentary shines a light on not only that unique day, but on just what his passing meant to the nation he had steered through some of their darkest days.”
The anniversary will also be marked elsewhere on the beeb with Radio 4 giving its listeners another chance to hear Churchill’s Other Lives and BBC Two Daytime repeating the Great Britons documentary about his life, from 2002, and eight-part series In the Footsteps of Churchill which originally aired in 2006. It will also air archive content from 1965 – including the original obituary – and related films will include Young Winston (the 1972 biopic directed by Richard Attenborough).
Meanwhile, BBC Parliament is to show The State Funeral 50 Years On; introduced by Sir Nicholas Soames, the Grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, and featuring commentary from Richard Dimbleby, the programme will air to mirror the original timings of his funeral in 1965 – on 30th January 2015 from 9.15am. BBC Parliament is also working with the corporation’s archive unit in the restoration of original footage of the funeral for re-broadcast.