Posted by: sommecourt | 03/11/2008

My Family At War – The Making

My Family At War

My Family At War

The series My Family At War was filmed for BBC1 between May and September 2008. Series producer was James Hayes (well known for Timewatch and especially his recent film on Omaha Beach), and individual programme producers were Naomi Austin, Rosie Schellenberg and Helen Shariatmadari, all of whom are experienced documentary programme makers.

Eight ‘personalities’ were chosen with a wide variety of military ancestors, from mechanics in the Royal Flying Corps (Phil Tufnel), to Australians (Rolf Harris) and even a Great War General (Dan Snow). The most personal relationship to the ancestor was Rolf Harris, who followed his father who fought in France with the 16th Battalion Australian Infantry between 1917 and 1918. Some, such as Kate Silverton, had never met the relative they were following. Initially, this was challenging, even for an experience broadcaster, but the Great War is such a fascinating and absorbing subject, all of the presenters found themselves very much fascinated by what their family member had done, as well as the wider context of the war itself.

My input as Series Consultant was to ensure that all the research was in place, as well as find suitable locations to film, and brief all the presenters. We found some great locations, and were able to put some of the presenters on the exact bit of battlefield where they ancestor had been 90 years before.

Fellow military historian Dan Snow arguably had one of the hardest stories to come to terms with – a General ancestor who did not come out of the Battle of the Somme well at all, and which in the programme author Alan MacDonald explains he was a man whose decisions cost the lives of many of those under his command. But the programme re-united Dan with a legacy from his great-grandfather; war diaries which Dan did not know existed, and had never read.

My Family At War will be shown every evening from tonight, with the final programme being transmitted at 9.00pm on 11th November; this will tell the story of Kirsty Wark and Rolf Harris.

Web: BBC website.

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