Mike Royden's Local History Pages in the Media

Blitz Cities: Liverpool (BBC) - presented by Ricky Tomlinson



Blitz Cities: Liverpool (BBC) - presented by Ricky Tomlinson

This BBC Series was made to mark the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Blitz. Various celebrities explored the Blitz history of their home cities, which included Norwich, Cardiff, Leeds, London, Birmingham and Liverpool.

Liverpool's docks were a primary German target in the Blitz and to mark the anniversary, actor Ricky Tomlinson went up in a plane to look at the effect it had on his home city. In an emotional programme, he talked to survivors, family members and old friends like comedian Stan Boardman, whose brother was killed in an air-raid shelter.

I took Ricky to a couple of sites on the docks to get a more detailed understanding of what happened to the port during that week in May 1941.



The first site was the grain silo at Gladstone Dock, the tallest building on the complex, which would give us an excellent view across the docks and river below. However, we hadnt been warned about this and as we walked towards the entrance we had just been told were headed for the roof. Hence our look of apprehension above.

When we got to the top via the lift, we then went up another flight on the stairs constructed of grating where we could see to the bottom of the hollow silo below. Then on the top floor, we were guided to an exit door, which suddenly opened to world below and a two flight fire escape bolted to the outside of the building - all which was made even more terrifying by the strong wind. Not looking down as the steps were again grating, through which the ants below could be seen loading the little toy ships, we stepped back inside. The sound man, betraying his name, refused to go up to the roof, so we were wired up first then sent up top. He took quite a bit of stick as we went through mic testing once on the roof. The view was magnificent, especially in the glorious sunshine. It was very difficult to imagine any of the horrors inflicted below 75 years earlier as we started filming.


Looking towards the Pier Head from the roof of the grain silo


The second site was at Huskisson Dock, now filled in, to talk about the explosion aboard the vessel Malakand, the greatest explosion ever experienced on Merseyside; the devastation it caused and the bravery shown by the men that night who fought to save further destruction and loss of life .


Click here for further information on the series.


Click here for the full programme on YouTube (unless the link is broken as a result of it being taken down for copyright reasons)


The programe was later nominated in the Best Daytime Programme category in the Broadcast Awards 2016, with the winners announced during a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on February 10.

The five-part series featured celebrities looking at the effects the Blitz had on particular cities the others being London, Norwich, Cardiff and Birmingham but it is the Liverpool programme which was nominated.
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