The lowering of the cranes in silent tribute as Churchill’s coffin passed down the Thames has become one of the most iconic images of respect from footage of his state funeral.
But after last night’s BBC1 documentary, Churchill: The Nation’s Farewell, there was apparent anger from viewers when it was revealed by a former dock worker that they were paid to lower the cranes.
A handful of viewers wrote on Twitter that they were shocked the BBC documentary revealed that the dockers were "bribed" to lower the cranes because they did not like Churchilll.
However, John Lynch, a dock man in 1965, explained in the film that although the socialist dockers were not fond of Churchill, they were paid to operate the cranes on the day of his funeral because it took place on a Saturday when they did not usually work.
He said: “They [the dockers] didn’t like Churchill. I think I can speak for most, they didn’t like him. When they were asked to do it the atmosphere was ‘no’. They were paid to do it. We didn’t work Saturday afternoon, we wouldn’t have been there.”
The Mail Online reported that “angry viewers poured scorn on the BBC” for including the unknown fact in the documentary.
However, the majority of tweets from viewers about the documentary praised the BBC and its presenter Jeremy Paxman for the insightful film.
Others thanked the presenter for telling “great stories” about the funeral, including the fact the dockers were paid to lower the cranes.
The documentary marks the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death. The war-time prime minister died at the age of 90 on 24 January 1965 after suffering a stroke.
Churchill: The Nation’s Farewell will be repeated at 2pm on BBC Two on Friday 30 January.
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