Great War given colour treatment for £1m television series

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The Independent Online

It's the Great War as it has never been shown on television before. Over images of British troops scaling dark brown trenches in their green tunics, and shots of biplanes dogfighting in blue skies, the narrator, Kenneth Branagh, remarks: "World War One has always been seen as a war in black and white, but it was not the reality."

A team of 450 Indian computer specialists has spent more than six months transforming 302,400 frames of archive footage into the first colour portrayal of mankind's bloodiest conflict. The results, including images of the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and the Russian Revolution of 1917 - will be shown in a six-part series, World War One In Colour, on Five from next Wednesday.

Philip Nugus, a historian, who has overseen the idea, said original posters and museum exhibits had been used to ensure that colours were exact. "There is a bunch of purists who will always prefer material shot in black and white to be seen in black and white," he said. "But if you said to a cameraman back in 1914, 'Which film stock would you prefer?' most would have plumped for the colour."

The series is believed to have cost about £1m, and is the channel's largest investment in a history series.