Tom Cunliffe to present

Yachting Monthly writer Tom Cunliffe will present an exciting series of maritime programmes on BBC Four.

Tom’s six-part series will be the flagship of an entire season of maritime programmes on BBC Four.

Tom’s series is called The Boats that Built Britain, and begins in May.

programmes, produced by Form Films, examine the pivotal
boats involved in Britain’s exploration, trade, fishing and defence. Tom
on board the following charismatic vessels:

The replica of Cabot’s ship, The Matthew

The Reaper – a huge, lug-rigged
fishing boat

Higgins WWII Landing Craft

The Phoenix a brig

The Pickle – the replica of the schooner that
brought the news of Nelson’s victory and death at Trafalgar

Olga and Cariad – two classic pre-WWI pilot cutter

The National Maritime Museum has arranged an
to accompany The Boats That Built Britain series. Tom will also be
delivering two lectures there, one giving the background to the
programme and the other about pilot cutters.

The wider season on BBC Four is called Sea Fever – The Story Of Britain And The Sea and will focus on maritime history, culture, economics and science.

Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four, says: “With air flight and channel tunnels it might be easy to forget that Britain is a maritime nation surrounded by the sea. Britain always has been, and continues to be, influenced and shaped by her relationship with the sea – it is a constant in a changing world.

“Messing about in boats, the splash of cold salt water, the sturm und drang of the big sea, the harsh environment that is also beautiful, poetry, paintings and music – all these and more will be explored in Sea Fever.”

Other programmes in the season include: Shanties And Sea Songs with Gareth Malone, in which the choirmaster travels the length and breadth of the country to discover the rich heritage of Britain’s maritime songs – and the real life stories behind them; Timothy Spall – Somewhere At Sea, a mini-odyssey along the coast from Cornwall to Wales in the company of the actor and his wife on their Dutch barge.

The National Maritime Museum’s exhibition is based around the themes explored in the series, and drawing upon the Museum’s collection, the exhibition will look at the stories surrounding subjects such as the might of the British Navy and the 1805 Trafalgar victory, and the pivotal impact of the sea on the outcome of the Second World War. The Museum’s exhibition will be supported by two evening events showcasing programmes from the BBC season, a series of talks and lectures and a number of special family events.

Dan Matthews, Exhibitions Manager at the National Maritime Museum, says: “The Boats That Made Britain offers an excellent opportunity to look at Britain’s relationship with the sea through six iconic vessels. The boats that enabled us to explore the oceans, earn our living from the sea and ply our trade are a key part of our history. We are particularly excited about this exhibition and the BBC’s Sea Season as it touches on so many aspects of Britain’s maritime past and present and links to many of the subjects that are at the heart of the National Maritime Museum.”

The season will also delve into the science of the sea with Waves, a documentary exploring the passion that some scientists have for billows and breakers; The Box That Changed Britain will tell the story of how the advent of global container shipping brought huge change to Britain, transforming its ports, economy and society; the art and literature of the high seas will be revealed in two special programmes, Art Of The Sea: In Pictures and Art Of The Sea: In Words; and Dive, Dive, Dive! (working title) will celebrate the wonderful sub-genre of the submarine movie.