Those Were The Days

Wednesday 21 May 2008 9:00pm – 10:00pm on ITV3.

7pm on November 9th and one of the most surprising news flashes off all time, the Berlin Wall is coming down. While the world held its breath for a wall to come down, in Mexico an earthquake was disrupting the largest convention of British travel agents, a young postman from Southampton was attempting to travel to New York and back in under 24 hours for charity, and in Berlin a young, blind East German boy was trying to cross back into East Germany for an emotional reunion with his old friends.

Wednesday 14 May 2008 9:00pm – 10:00pm

July 3rd 1976 was the hottest day of the hottest summer on record and unsurprisingly the whole country was out and about. The mercury rose to a staggering 96.6 degrees on that Saturday, a heat wave of epic proportions.

Hippie Michael Friar West started the day on Exmouth Beach. The free spirit that he was he was determined to be at one with nature and rely on no one as he took to the sea in his home built wooden canoe, his destination – France. He recalls being picked up by four naked women on a yacht, which later featured in the Daily Express and The Mirror. He also remembers how he felt when he landed not on French soil but on The Isle of Wight.

Frank and Debbie Ford lived and worked as Park Keepers in a lodge in Cheltenham that year. Likening it to Faulty Towers, Frank recalls his feelings of pride as he captured the record temperature on Met. Office Weather Station in the garden.

On the hottest day on record ever, Hungarian-born Tony Dansco was making a 180 mile trip from his home in Coventry to Dover to greet his estranged mother. He recalls his escape from a Soviet-occupied Hungary to freedom at 17 years old in the British city of Coventry. Unable to return or for his mother to join him, he remembers the reunion between himself and his mother after 20 long years, on the Quay at Dover.

In Torbay, 18-year-old, trainee teacher Wendy Brook entered the Torbay swimming championships, a gruelling eight mile swim. She remembers smashing the record and leaving her closest competitor 20 minutes behind her.

Nick and Annie Tavener were tying the knot on this day. They recall their first encounter at Cambridge University and the decade that followed before Nick finally proposed. They remember the wedding day nerves which helped them get over the 100 degree temperature of the church.

16-year-old Chris Howarth attended his first ever Sealed Knot battle re-enactment in Cardiff in the searing heat of July the third. With his exams behind him, Chris remembers feeling the need to impress at his first major battle, despite the temperature and his fellow soldiers dropping like flies.

Wednesday 7 May 2008 9:00pm – 10:00pm on ITV3.

33 million people tune in to their televisions on the 30th of July 1966 to watch England defeat West Germany at Wembley Stadium. In Yorkshire, however, a young couple are getting married; it’s every groom’s nightmare as Robin Stanley walks down the aisle knowing kick off approaches. Jane and Robin Stanley recall the run up to their wedding, as it dawned on them that it would fall on the same day as one of the most memorable days in sporting history. With their minds on the football, Robin and Best Man cut it fine arriving at the church, as result of this Robin forgets to wear his braces which makes for some awkward positions in the big day’s photos. Robin also remembers the steady procession of men making their way to the nearest TV at the reception and how he carefully kept this from his wife at the time.

In a cave 380 feet beneath the Mendip hills, David Lafferty is attempting to break the World underground endurance record. Having had no human contact for 124 days, with no means of telling the time, David is unaware of the World Cup final even taking place. He remembers teaching himself German on the day, his parents and wife’s unimpressed reaction to his challenge, and reading horror stories alone in the dark.

David Johnstone and John Hoare are rowing their 71st day across the Atlantic Ocean in a bid to become the first men in the twentieth century and the second in history to do so. The World Cup Final is far from their minds however – they have run out of food and are in search of a nearby vessel to rescue them. David’s nephew James, tells their tragic story with the aid of his uncle’s waterproof journal which was recovered along with their empty boat, Puffin, 5 weeks after the day of the World Cup Final.

Racing Johnstone and Hoare in the same 3000 mile, 3 million stroke trans-Atlantic marathon are young Paratroopers Sir Chay Blythe and John Ridgeway. Unlike their rivals, Blythe and Ridgeway are both physically and mentally prepared for the challenge and take a break from rowing on July 30th to tune in to the big match on their transistor radio, in the sunshine. They are unaware of Johnstone and Hoare’s current struggle to stay alive. Sir Chay Blythe recalls the most disapointing moment of their journey when, as England went up 2-1, a wave washed away their radio leaving them to guess the final result.

Ex-Boac flight engineer Bill Lecomber is in the former British coloney of Nigeria which is in a state of emergency after an army mutiny has deposed the country’s ruler. He recollects his feelings on the 30th of July, as he was taken by rebel soldiers to a deserted airport. He remembers the decisions he had to make in order to make it home safely that day to news that England had won the World Cup.

In Sheffield, Denis Clarebrough is one of the lucky fans seeing the World Cup action first hand, from the stands inside Wembley Stadium. He remembers what it felt like to be part of a moment in history. Denis was also, to his knowledge, the only person to take unofficial footage with his brand new, Super Eight, Cini-Camera. Unfortunately his camera wasn’t running at the time Geoff Hurst scored the one of most debated goals in footballing history.

At Sunnyvale Holiday Park, 10-year-old Ken Doerr has been separated from his parents. He remembers the effort his German father had to go to in order to be accepted in to a cup final watching crowd. His father scored his own goal on July 30th 1966 however, as was discovered when his mother gave birth to a son nine months later.

Wednesday 30 April 2008 9:00pm – 10:00pm

1981: Di & Charles’ Wedding on July 29th sees the wedding the whole world has been waiting for – Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles. 750 million people around the world make this the most watched TV event in history.

The night before the big day a party of ladies from Liverpool boarded a coach London to soak up a little more than the atmosphere. Friends Sandra Astles and Beryl Brown remember the champagne breakfast on arrival and the electric atmosphere as they awaited the soon to be passing wedding procession on the streets of London.

Back in Liverpool, the night before the wedding the Toxteth riots raged on. In the weeks running up to Charles and Diana’s big day 500 of the stop and search protestors had been arrested and 450 police officers injured. PC Steve Richards recalls the nightmare of the night of the 28th of June as youths of all races clashed with the Merseyside force. He was repeatedly battered, sustained a head injury and feared for his life as petrol bombs were launched at police. Counting himself lucky Steve was not seriously injured he remembers settling down on the sofa with his wife to watch the big day unfold.

Mountaineer Harish Kohli was attempting the longest traverse across the Himalayas – 8000km. Despite his remote location he was able to hear of the wedding taking place via a small battery powered transistor radio. He made sure his team set out early the day of the 29th to reach their destination plateau just in time to listen to the ceremony. Harish remembers their dangerous descent as an avalanche struck.

Lloyd Coxone, a Brixton local and record shop owner, united his community on the day of the royal wedding. Six months previously the streets of Brixton had resembled the violent scenes in Toxteth but on June 29th Lloyd erected his huge sound system outdoors and held a trouble free dance party to celebrate Charles and Diana’s big day. Lloyd remembers his feelings as thousands turned out for the event when he wasn’t sure who was even going to play. Luckily for Lloyd many local artists and DJs took to the microphones that day, including Levi Roots and Peter Huningale.

A West London bridal company was racing against time to complete a replica of Diana’s £20,000 dress in less than four hours, as Charles and Diana were tying the knot. Regine Ellis and Stella Fuller of Ellis Bridals explain that the company made replicas of all royal wedding dresses but that this one was the most famous dress in the world. They felt the pressure because they saw it for the first time with the rest of the world when Diana stepped out of her carriage and it had to be finished by 5pm.

For TV presenter Angela Rippen, June 29th was to be the longest and most important day of her career as she reported the event from Television Centre. She recalls the adrenaline that got her through a whole day’s broadcasting and remembers asking the question that everyone wanted to know the answer to: “What’s she going to wear?” She also describes the first royal public kiss that the crowds chanted for outside Buckingham Palace.

Not everyone however, was so keen on the royal wedding. Steve Mills and Dave Rogers, two old angling friends decided to take advantage of the bank holiday and went fishing for the day off the Isle of Wight. They remember celebrating for a different reason – they caught a 12 foot thresher shark, the fourth biggest ever caught in British waters.

Wednesday 23 April 2008 9:00pm – 10:00pm

1969 Moon Landing – On Sunday July 20th, a billion people worldwide prepared to watch the first men land on the moon. In the first of this five part series British actor and star of Spooks Rupert Penry-Jones tells the real-life stories behind the headlines.

Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore is fronting the coverage at Television Centre and is getting increasingly anxious about the perils that await his friends, astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin. He remembers the memorable moment when he heard his friend, Buzz Aldrin, declare “the eagle has landed”.

Bob Pritchard is at the Jodrell Bank space research centre in Cheshire keeping his eye on the Russian space craft, Lunar 15. The only man whose full-time job it is to track space craft, Bob is feeling the tension as he watches the Russian rival mission and is poised to catch any unexpected activity. He recalls listening in on the conversation between the astronauts aboard Apollo 11 and ground control as they were forced to switch to manual control for the tear-jerking touch down.

Beauty queen Pat Wheeldon is parading her assets before the judges at the Miss British Isles contest as spectators duck in and out of the room to check Apollo 11’s progress. She explains the sixties were a high time for beauty competitors and that Miss World drew the biggest TV audiences ever in a time of flower power and free love.

Marathon runner Ron Hill MBE is warming up for the race of his life as Armstrong and Aldrin are being propelled towards the moon. The first major international marathon in the UK is Ron’s big break after two failed Olympic attempts. He recounts the route he ran with 60,000 other athletes to achieve victory at Old Trafford Stadium – the turning point of his career.

Barry Gardner and Les Humphreys, two of the Sixpenny Six, are behind bars at Winchester prison for their protests against a charge to enter their local park. Unaware of the events unfolding in space, Barry and Les remember their feelings toward the life sentence they potentially faced.

Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman and Jack McCulloch of the band Thunderclap Newman are enjoying a chart topping success with their single Something in the Air, which is at number one for the third successive week. They reminiss about recording the track in The Who’s Pete Townshend’s bedroom and knocking The Beatles off the top spot. With six hours to go until Apollo 11 touches the moon’s surface, Thunderclap Newman are playing The Place Club in Hanley. They remember the crowd’s reaction to Deep Purple being bumped from headliner to their support act and being pelted with coins. They also recall the gig being interrupted with regular updates on Apollo 11’s journey to the moon.

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