BBC Factual today announces a brand new six-part series for BBC Two and iPlayer, The Warship: Tour Of Duty, following the Royal Navy’s biggest warship HMS Queen Elizabeth on her first-ever operational voyage.
Featuring dramatic and aggressive encounters with hostile navies, a royal visit from the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and access to all areas of the giant aircraft carrier - the series tells the raw and intimate story of a gruelling seven month voyage to the other side of an increasingly troubled world.
When HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth in May 2021 the 1,600 men and women on board, many going to sea for the first time, had no idea what lay ahead. None could have guessed they were heading out on one of the most unusual deployments in naval history.
This new landmark series, filmed and directed by award-winning filmmaker Chris Terrill, lets viewers see what it’s like to serve on a state of the art warship on active operations. Chris was deeply embedded in the ship’s company for the entire deployment and given unprecedented freedom of access.
The films follow HMS Queen Elizabeth on a 20,000 mile round trip from Portsmouth to the South China Sea as part of a ten-strong taskforce of destroyers, frigates and supply ships. Joining the Queen Elizabeth’s ship’s company are 350 US Marines who help sustain the ship’s squadrons of F35 stealth fighters.
We meet the officers in command as well as the senior and junior ratings who work round the clock to keep the vast aircraft carrier shipshape and combat ready. Captured on film is the impact of a serious Covid outbreak on-board while port visits in Italy, Cyprus, Guam, and Japan show a very different side to travelling the world with the Navy.
With no-holds-barred access to the ship and ship’s company, viewers will witness the tasks, triumphs, and tribulations of officers and ratings alike. The average age on board is just 24 and for many - like Helayna from the Wirral and ex drum n bass DJ Ronnie from Essex - this is their first time at sea.
Through them and many others we experience the peril of life on the high seas as well as the fun and friendship that can be the reward of close-quarter living in a high-pressure, high-risk environment.
Chris Terrill says: “I have made many films on board Royal Navy warships but this series was the most exciting, surprising, challenging, and rewarding of my career. None of us on board returned home the same person who left. It has been my privilege to capture this life changing deployment to share with viewers.”
Tom Coveney, Commissioning Editor, Specialist Factual for the BBC, says: “With war raging on our doorstep, it’s never been more important to understand the lives of the young people serving in our frontline armed forces. The extraordinary access in this series will show viewers both the challenges and triumphs faced by the women and men of the Royal Navy like never before.”
The Warship: Tour Of Duty, a 6x60’ series for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer, is made by Uppercut Films and Two Rivers Media.