The BBC has been accused of putting celebrity before historical accuracy and ignoring the suffering endured by Britain’s most bomb-damaged city in a new TV series about the Blitz.
Historians in Hull say the corporation has made an “appalling” error in failing to include the city in its new star-studded Blitz Cities series.
Each programme in the series is hosted by a celebrity who revisits their home town to find out what it was like living there during the war, with EastEnders star Shane Richie in London for the first episode.
Historians and community groups have now accused the BBC of failing to recognise the bombing of Hull, which suffered more devastation per square mile than any other city in Britain, including London.
They are being backed by historians in Coventry, which was also devastated during the Blitz but does not feature in the TV series either. Dr Robb Robinson, a historian at Hull University, said: “The city’s suffering is so often forgotten. It is symptomatic of the approach the BBC in London has to the regions. It also seems to be confusing history with celebrity.”
More than 1,200 people were killed and 3,000 injured in Hull during the Blitz. Nearly 95 per cent of the city’s houses were damaged and 152,000 people left homeless. The extent of the devastation was kept secret by wartime censors and a Government notice preventing discussion about it and was only lifted in the 1970s.
The BBC has confirmed that the cities were chosen for its Blitz Cities series because of the celebrities’ associations with them. One episode will feature the journalist John Humphrys in Cardiff, while the actor Ricky Tomlinson visits Liverpool.
Alan Canvess, from the Hull-based National Civilian World War Two Memorial Trust, said: “If the BBC chose the celebrities before they chose the cities, that would be really disappointing.”
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