BBC Four to mark 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster

ATV fundrasing Special for the Welsh Aberfan disaster in 1966

BBC Four is to air, Surviving Aberfan,  a look back at the tragedy which saw children and adults lose their lives after an avalanche covered a school and houses in the village of Aberfan.

“The BBC Documentaries department has commissioned some brilliant films this year, from recent singles How To Die: Simon’s Choice, Abused: The Untold Story, and Behind Closed Doors, to beautifully crafted series such as The Prosecutors and The Big C And Me. I want the BBC to be the place where the most exciting and acclaimed documentary filmmakers in the UK can come and do their very best work.” – Patrick Holland, BBC Head of Commissioning, Documentaries

Fifty years ago, on the 21st of October 1966, 116 children and 28 adults lost their lives after a roaring avalanche of coal waste crashed into a school and the houses nearby in the South Wales mining village of Aberfan. This film tells the deeply moving story of the worst disaster involving children in modern British history.

Over a few unbelievable minutes, death and destruction were wrought over this small village, and it was a race against time to rescue the survivors, many of whom were buried alive. In this film, developed by BBC Wales, the people of Aberfan tell their stories of tragic loss, miraculous survival and heroic rescue.

In the hour long special many talk for the first time about the most harrowing day of their lives, and how they have lived with the memory for half a century. We hear extraordinary untold stories of firefighters, rescuers and the children they saved, and see how the people of Aberfan have coped with the consequences of the disaster. This is an intimate and deeply moving portrait of a community that suffered a heart-breaking disaster, yet somehow found the strength to carry on with hope and dignity. It’s the story of surviving Aberfan.

Pictured top: In March 1967 ATV Elstree studios were home to The Heart Of Showbusiness, an all-star fundraiser, including the big Welsh stars of the day Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey, for the families of the victims of Aberfan.

BBC Four