British pubcaster the BBC is marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with four new docs for BBC4, collectively dubbed ‘Cold War Season’.
Rich Hall’s Red Menace (1 x 60 minutes) explores the relationship between the West and the East, America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. American comedian, writer and musician Rich Hall looks at the Cold War from an American perspective and delves into the psyche of those living in the Soviet Union, those who took part in the machinations, plots and conspiracies, and the ordinary citizens who lived through it.
The doc is an Open Mike production for BBC4. It was commissioned by Cassian Harrison, BBC4 channel editor, and Mark Bell, arts commissioning editor. John McCormack produces, with Andrew Beint and Anthony Caveney serving as EPs.
Elsewhere, Reporting History: The Fall of the Berlin Wall (1 x 60 minutes) sees John Simpson, the BBC’s world affairs editor, re-examining his own reports on the fall of the Berlin Wall. As he combs through the BBC’s extensive archive, he will consider the ways history did not turn out as he’d hoped, and his sense that global politics are even more complex and worrying now than then.
The doc was commissioned by Harrison and Tom McDonald, head of commissioning, natural history and specialist factual. It is being produced by Alleycats, with Emma Parkins serving as executive producer. Abigail Priddle is the commissioning editor at the BBC.
Meanwhile, London Calling: Cold War Letters (1 x 60 minutes) tells the story of the BBC’s World service broadcast Letters Without Signature, which ran from 1955 to 1975, broadcasting letters from silenced people of East Germany by inviting them to secretly write in to the radio program. The film looks at the impact of the program on both the letter writers in East Germany, who faced jail if discovered, and the producers of the show in London, including its presenter, Austin Harrison.
The doc is a State of Grace/Schulz-Wendelmann production for BBC4. It was commissioned by Harrison and Bell. Rachel Hooper produces, with Mike Connolly executive producing.
Finally, A British Guide To The End Of The World (1 x 75 minutes) uses previously unseen archive and exclusive testimonies from people directly involved in and affected by Britain’s nuclear ambitions as the country prepared itself for nuclear attack during the Cold War.
The doc is an Erica Starling production for BBC4. It was commissioned by Harrison and Bell. Hooper produces, with Sam Collyns serving as EP.
“Only BBC4 would approach such an important date with such a distinctive, eclectic and unexpectedly entertaining range of content,” said Harrison in a statement. “From Rich Hall’s brilliantly dyspeptic take on the absurdities of mutually assured destruction to shocking footage of the UK’s desperate attempts to prepare for Armageddon, BBC Four’s Cold War season will offer a singular perspective on an extraordinary era.”