Hartlepool premiere for Jeremy Paxman’s series on Great War

Jeremy Paxman
Jeremy Paxman

A NEW television series all about Britain’s part in the First World War will have a preview screening in Hartlepool.

Hartlepool College of Further Education will host the showing of BBC One’s new documentary which is called Britain’s Great War.

Civic dignitaries and other guests have been invited to the showing next Thursday.

They will get a preview look at the series which is presented by Jeremy Paxman and is a four-part focus on how Britain and the lives of British people were changed by the global conflict.

The Newsnight and University Challenge star spent two days on the Headland researching and filming for the series which will be shown on BBC 1, from Monday, January 27.

His focus was the bombardment of the Hartlepools by the German Navy just after 8am on December 16, 1914.

A total of 119 civilians across Hartlepool and West Hartlepool were killed and more than 400 were wounded as 1,150 shells rained down.

The Headland’s Heugh Gun Battery returned fire, damaging some of the attacking ships, in what was the only battle to be fought on British soil during the First World War.

Eight of the Battery’s soldiers were killed in the naval attack, including Theo Jones, of the 18th Durham Light Infantry, who was from West Hartlepool and was the first British soldier to be killed on home soil.

The BBC has described the coverage as the “biggest and most ambitious season to commemorate the World War One centenary”.

In the first episode Jeremy Paxman traces the story of the dramatic early stages of the war: from stunned disbelief to the mass recruitment of volunteer soldiers. Fear of invasion grips the country,

For the first time British civilians are fired on by enemy ships and bombed from the air.

Jeremy met a 105-year-old eyewitness to the shelling of Hartlepool, who describes how she thought the Germans had landed.

The BBC’s centenary programming will explain why the First World War happened, commemorate and remember those involved, and “shine a light on what it was like to live through this cataclysmic event in world history.”

It will also debate just its legacy has meant for modern society.

l DO you have any First World War memorabilia, the likes of diaries or old pictures. If so contact the Mail on (10429) 239380.