The Last Day of WW1

With Michael Palin

BBC Timewatch : 1 November 2008, 20.15 GMT.


In October 2007 I was fortunate to be asked to be Historical Consultant for one of the flagship programmes the BBC was planning for the 90th Anniversary of the end of the Great War. Working with old friend, BBC Producer John Hayes-Fisher, we spent the winter of '07/'08 researching the last week of the war, and in particular with special reference to the last day. This meant a number of trips out to the battlefields, and also many hours in the archives. We were particularly interested in finding out more about the final casualties of the war, and aside from our own research into this, members of the Great War Forum were particularly helpful.

By the time of our second filming recce, we were pleased to discover that Michael Palin had agreed to present the film. We knew Michael's unique style would bring something special to the programme, and we were delighted to discover he had a genuine interest in WW1, having lost a great uncle on the Somme in 1916.

Filming started in February 2008, and the project came to an end in April, some seven months before it would go to air. We spent many hours out on the ground, and were fortunate to interview some fascinating contributors. Michael was superb in piecing the journey together for us, and it was pleasing for me to able to find some time for him to see his uncle's name on the Caterpillar Valley Memorial, and also take him out to the ground where his last action was fought.

Finally, after months of editing, and much hard work by John Hayes-Fisher, the programme was ready. It would be the 'opening shot' in the BBC's Remembrance 90 series, and is scheduled for broadcast on Saturday 1st November 2008 at 20.15.

A special thanks to Michael, and also John Hayes-Fisher, along with our 'dream team' crew who worked on programme: Julian Clinkard, David Holmes and Alison Seymour.


Web Links

BBC Timewatch Page - Last Day of WW1

Last Day of WW1 Podcast

Production Blog

You Tube Clip

Photo Album

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At the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery The Crew at work. Filming with historian Christina Holstein.


ŠPaul Reed 2008-2010

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