In 1927, Donald Merrett began a 12 month sentence for forgery. A charge of murder had been found Not Proven. The killing for which he had stood trial, was that of his mother ….and he was just 17. Born in New Zealand in 1908, Merrett moved with his mother Bertha to Edinburgh, in 1926. After she died and on his release from prison, he married 17 year old Vera Bonnar and went on a thirty year spree across Europe. He spent a large inheritance, consorted with countless women - and traded on the black market during WWII. In his 40s, he returned to Britain. When Vera refused to give him cash, he drowned her in the bath and when her mother tried to intervene, Merrett showed no mercy. Donald Merrett was one of the most colourful and daring criminals of his day. From his crimes as a teenager in Edinburgh to his demise, his story is told through drama reconstruction and expert opinion.
In a revealing documentary, Mike Leigh, director of Secrets & Lies, Vera Drake and Abigail's Party among many others, talks to Alan Yentob about a unique body of work and a lifelong struggle to make films on his own terms. On day one of a Mike Leigh film, there is no script, no story and the actors do not know if they will even be in the final film. It is a process that has yielded some of cinema's most celebrated performances, and Leigh's new film Mr Turner is already winning critical acclaim. Actors including Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan, Sally Hawkins, Lesley Manville and James Corden give fascinating insights into the director and his distinctive method of working.
From street urchin to knight of the realm: the story of Norman Wisdom, who used to be one of the biggest film stars in the UK - portraying a man who rarely stepped out of character in public, and whose highly individual comic style hid the private tragedy of his early life. The actor's life story is told through the people who knew him well: his son and daughter Nick and Jaqui Wisdom, his daughter-in-law Kim, film director Stephen Frears, actors Ricky Tomlinson, Leslie Phillips and Honor Blackman, and singer Dame Vera Lynn.
During World War Two an army of performers from ballerinas to magicians, contortionists to impressionists, set out to help win the war by entertaining the troops far and wide. Risking their lives they ventured into war zones, dodging explosions and performing close to enemy lines. Featuring the memories of this intrepid band of entertainers and with contributions from Dame Vera Lynn, Eric Sykes and Tony Benn, this documentary tells the remarkable story of the World War Two performers and hears the memories of some of those troops who were entertained during the dark days of war.