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The making of Wreckers 2: Leaving London

Updated Friday, 23rd February 2007

The Timewatch Team make progress with the wrecking project.

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Monday 19 February

Having read the book over the weekend we decide we can’t just concentrate on a couple of geographical areas at the expense of others. We know our viewers will like this documentary precisely because it offers a journey around the whole of Britain – a bit like BBC’s Coast, which was very popular with the audience.

Also what we got from re-reading Bella’s book is that you can’t understand wrecking without getting a good grasp of geography because each coastal community is very distinct and has its own local practices and style of wrecking. We decide to try and cover as many places as we can.

But Chris does decide to drop one chapter of the book completely – London. It’s a shame as there are lots of juicy wrecking-type stories attached to the Thames, but it doesn’t quite fit the story as well as the other coastal areas.

Posts standfing proud of the Thames at Rotherhithe [Image: Tubb under CC-BY-NC-ND licence] Creative commons image Icon Tubb under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license
Left out of the story: Posts standfing proud of the Thames at Rotherhithe

Wednesday 21 February

The book contains so many wonderful little stories and anecdotes but how do we turn this into a narrative that will keep our viewers watching to the end? We meet with Bella, the author and talk about some of the issues in the book. We all agree the most interesting angle is why people wrecked; putting wrecking in the context of a particular time and place – for instance, getting in the mindset of someone living two hundred years ago on a remote island off Scotland with poor harvests and a large family to feed.

This seems like a good way of knitting a story together if we learn something new from each place about why people wrecked. But we still have a problem, how do we keep the viewer watching to the end – what is our central quest or mystery that we can promise an answer to at the end?

Friday 23 February

While Chris has been trying to nail down the story structure, I have been making lots of calls to potential contributors. We start with the people Bella has met in her book and most of them are interested to hear about the programme and willing to help, which is good news. But Bella has taken quite a journalistic approach to her book and all the people she meets are locals, who can’t always put wrecking in its wider historical context. We want to add a layer of expert opinion, particularly to understand the rather complicated law of wrecking, so I need to do some people scouting of my own.

I contact the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth and various University departments dedicated to maritime history to tell them about the programme and ask if they can help. Soon I am building up a good list of recommended contacts.

Find out more

More on the Timewatch Wreckers programme

Study history with The Open University





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