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Britain's Greatest Generation

Britain's Greatest Generation

Mondays, April 9, 16, 23 & 30 8pm ET/5pm PT

We meet some of the extraordinary last survivors of the generation who fought or lived through World War Two. Now in their nineties and hundreds- the oldest is 110- they come from both rich and poor backgrounds. We find out how these men and women of Britain’s Greatest Generation were shaped by their childhood experiences.

For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War. The euphoria of victory in 1918 had imbued many with an overwhelming sense of patriotism, and pride in Britain that would remain deep-rooted for years to come.

But national unity was seriously tested in the 1920s and 30s, as Britain became a country riven with class conflict and inequality. As unemployment soared, there was widespread civil unrest.

Britain's Greatest Generation

Despite these upheavals, those growing up in the inter-war years remember much that was positive about life in Britain at the time. Their stories reveal that personal qualities of courage, initiative, obedience, and fairness, seeded by parents of all classes, were highly valued. Most strikingly, they shared a delight in exercising freedom and independence – attributes that would come in useful as another world war approached.

When war broke out in September 1939, the men and women of this generation had just come of age, and were ready to risk their lives for their country. But the evacuation of the British Army from the beaches of Dunkirk was a wakeup call for those who expected a swift victory. By the Summer of 1940, Britain stood alone, with the Nazis massed across the English Channel. The Battle of Britain was about to begin- and the men and women of Britain’s Greatest Generation were ready to fight it.

– EPISODE GUIDE –

Coming of Age
Monday, April 9 at 8pm ET/5pm PT

National unity was tested in the 1920s and 30s but despite class conflict, soaring unemployment and widespread civil unrest, those growing up in the inter-war years remember much that was positive about life in Britain at the time. When war broke out in 1939, the men and women of this generation were ready to risk their lives for their country, but the evacuation of the British Army from the beaches of Dunkirk was a wake-up call for those expecting a swift victory.

Britain's Greatest Generation

Their Finest Hour
Monday, April 16 at 8pm ET/5pm PT

WW2 saw men from all classes unite to fight the Nazis – this programme meets some of the last surviving pilots of the Battle of Britain. Women, who had been excluded from many jobs, worked in everything from anti-aircraft gun batteries to steel-making factories. The Blitz saw rescue workers risk all to save those trapped in bombed buildings. For many of the era’s last survivors the defiant spirit that brought the nation together remains one of their proudest moments, as this documentary reveals.

The Fight for Freedom
Monday, April 23 at 8pm ET/5pm PT

Stories of courage, suffering and survival from servicemen and women between 1942 and 1945, as revealed by a generation of people now in their nineties and hundreds. Fergus Anckorn who was once the youngest member of the Magic Circle and – at 96 – is now the oldest. He was taken prisoner by the Japanese in Singapore and put to work on the Burma Railway. He managed to survive using his magic to entertain his captors, who rewarded him with food that kept him and his fellow prisoners alive.

Britain's Greatest Generation

A Better World
Monday, April 30 at 8pm ET/5pm PT

A look at individuals who played their part in creating a more culturally diverse post-war Britain, including pioneering actor Earl Cameron, who broke through the colour bar in the film industry. Other well-known names also considered are gay rights activist George Montague, and Brian Rix, who has campaigned passionately on the issue of disability. Plus, Arctic Convoy survivor Austin Byrne and former prisoner of war Jim Purcell share their stories and memories of the era. Last in the series.

Britains Greatest Generation
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Britains Greatest Generation

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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.







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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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Britain's Greatest Generation
For no generation of Britons in modern history has war been such a defining feature than in the lives of those born just before, during, or soon after the First World War.



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