Built in large numbers in the years leading up to World War 2, Bristol's Blenheim saw use as both a fighter and bomber thanks to its high speed in relation to the biplane types it was then replacing. Aside from its work as the staple medium RAF bomber from 1939 through to 1942, Belnheims also served as pioneer radar-equipped nightfighters in 1940/41 and long-range patrol aircraft with Coastal Command. Obsolete in Europe by the end of 1940, the Belnheim continued to serve as a frontline bomber in North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Far East well into 1943.
The First World War's impact was vast and far-reaching, and has been examined in great detail already in countless documentaries during its centenary year. Even so, this new documentary turns up a few surprises. It explains how the Great War affected the people of Blenheim Palace, the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough. For centuries it existed as a miniature kingdom, until the conflict tore apart the stately home's family and wreaked havoc on the lives of the people who relied on the estate. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes takes a decorous stroll around Who Do You Think You Are? Territory as he investigates how the First World War brought about social change at Blenheim Palace. There are, however, no tears from him over the fate of its residents and workforce, despite some poignant stories. “I keep having this sense of people taken from ordinary lives and thrust into this,” he says in the middle of his researches. Rather cleverly, he compares the experiences of two very different Blenheim men - Winston Churchill, “the undisputed star of the family”, and Arthur Hine, the estate’s lowly clerk who became a heroic dispatch rider on the front line.
The meteoric rise of Jamie Cullum has been one of 2004's biggest success stories. From being a virtual unknown this time last year, the release of his major label debut Twentysomething last October has led to him becoming the acceptable face of easy listening. From teenagers too cool for Busted et al, through to grannies, his wide spectrum of appeal has seen him well on his way to becoming a household name. Recorded in the beautiful surroundings of Blenheim Palace earlier this year, this was Cullum's biggest show to date but he doesn't display any hints of nervousness.