Production Company:
Avalon Factual

Commissioning Broadcaster:

Series Breakdown:
S1 6 x 60

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Countdown to Disaster takes an unprecedented look at some of the most impactful events that affected Britain in the 20th and 21st centuries. Presented by award-winning actor JAMES NESBITT (Cold Feet, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man), the original six-part series unpicks the events that led to the most devastating disasters of the past 60 years.

The unique documentary shines a spotlight on the human cost of the tragedies while seeking to explain the wider political, cultural and institutional context that contributed to them – and looks at the changes made in the wake of each disaster. With individual narratives explored by journalists DONAL MACINTYRE (MacIntyre Investigates) and ANNA RICHARDSON (Super Shoppers, Naked Attraction), the series asks why warning signs were often ignored and how seemingly innocuous decisions – sometimes made decades before – contributed to the events that changed post-war Britain forever.

Each self-contained episode explores a different event, covering the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy (2017); the Ladbroke Grove rail crash (1999); the Zeebrugge ferry disaster (1987); and the King’s Cross Fire (1987). The series will also examine the Piper Alpha oil platform explosion (1988) and the Munich Air crash (1958), both of which will be broadcast during their 30th and 60th anniversaries, respectively.