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Hull ‘snubbed’ by BBC Blitz show due to ‘lack of local celebs’

September 8th, 2015

Records show 82 bombing raids on Hull during the height of the carnage, leaving 152,000 homeless. The city was targetted again later in the war by V1 rockets.

Although more bombs fell on London, the devastation was said to be worse in Hull because it was much smaller.

The cities were chosen because of the celebrities’ association with them.


But the BBC1 decided not to include Hull in this week’s Blitz Cities, which started on Monday, because of the lack of a suitable celebrity to front the programme.

A spokesman said: “To mark the Anniversary of the Blitz, the series sends famous faces on a trip around – and above – their home city to meet the people who lived through the bombing.

Myleene Klass investigates the bombing of Norwich

“As such, the cities were chosen because of the celebrities’ association with them.

“With only five episodes in total, we finally settled on London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool and Norwich.

“Although focusing on these particular cities, however, we hope the series as a whole does reflect the country’s experience during these years.”

Shane Ritchie presented the opening segment about the bombing of London while Ricky Tomlinson will highlight Liverpool’s suffering, followed by TV presenter Myleene Klass doing the same for Norwich.

Aerial photograph showing Hull, Hull City FC and the Humber Bridge

Other episodes will feature John Humphrys in Cardiff and actor David Harewood in Birmingham.

But Hull has been forgotten, according to locals who have highlighted the city’s links with celebs such as Tom Courtenay and Maureen Lipman.

For propaganda reasons, Hull was usually referred to in press reports of the bombings as “a northern coastal town” during the war years.

Alan Canvess, 58, secretary of the Hull-based National Civilian World War Two Memorial Trust, said: “Ninety five percent of houses in Hull were damaged in some way. So this has obviously raised the hackles of the people of Hull.

Maureen Lipman for Daily Telegraph Features section. Maureen Lipman, UK actress, picture taken at her home in North London with her dog called 'Diva'.

“We don’t know how the BBC have arrived at the other four towns and thought it might be celebrity led rather than look at the statistics for bombing suffering.

“We obviously feel they should have chosen Hull and thought Tom Courtenay and Maureen Lipman would be very suitable as presenters.

“People are saying it is a disgrace. In many ways it does not surprise us because we have been the forgotten city.”

Not to include Hull is outrageous. They have made a gross error.

National Civilian World War Two Memorial Trust

When asked whether the BBC had done more to damage local morale than the Luftwaffe, he added: “In this particular case they have. Not to include Hull is outrageous. They have made a gross error.”

Alan Brigham, 59, Chairman of Hull People’s Memorial, trying to raise money to build a memorial to civilian bombing victims, said: “We are disgusted.

“Yet again the BBC has yet again totally ignored the fact Hull was the most devastated place in the UK.

“There are countless celebrities from Hull they could have chosen. We have been bombarded with complaints. It is astonishing Coventry has not been included either.”

According to the project’s research, there were 192,660 habitable houses in Hull at the start of the war. Only 5,939 escaped damaged by the end.

Of the 240,000 people, 152,000 were rendered homeless and rehoused by the council. Many went to stay with friends or family, who were not recorded. Some were rendered homeless as many as 13 times. The figures do not include soldiers fighting in the war or evacuees.

More than half the city centre was wiped out. Over 3 million square feet of factory space was obliterated, and 27 churches destroyed, along with14 schools.

Mr Brigham added: “People are really annoyed with the BBC and the companies that make programmes for them.

“Something like this is supposed to commemorate the blitz. In the whole of the commonwealth, only Malta received more devastation.

“It was reported when the governor of Malta came to Hull after the war he was shocked how badly the city had been devastated and said Hull needed a medal as well as Malta.”

World War Two

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