BBC announces slate of programming to mark 75th anniversary of VE Day

The Queen will address the nation for the second time in a period of months.

The BBC has announced a slate of programming to the mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, including an address from the Queen.

The monarch will broadcast at 9pm, the exact time her father spoke to the nation three quarters of a century ago on May 8, the BBC said.

It will form the centrepiece of an evening event from the corporation which will also feature talent including Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins, actor Adrian Lester and singer Beverley Knight, who will be performing some of the best-known songs from the 1930s and 40s.

Katherine Jenkins
Katherine Jenkins will perform as part of the BBC’s celebrations (Matt Crossick/PA)

Presented by Sophie Raworth, the programme will culminate with a national rendition of Dame Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again, a song synonymous with the Second World War.

The Queen also alluded to the song in her recent address to the nation during the coronavirus pandemic.

The BBC said it had planned to stage celebrations and street parties across the country before the coronavirus pandemic caused a lockdown.

Other highlights of the programming include a commemoration of Sir Winston’s Churchill’s historic 3pm address to the nation to announce the end of the war in Europe.

On radio, Jeremy Vine will discuss the pivotal moments that led to the end of the war and Radio 3’s Words And Music will share diary extracts from 1945 with interludes of poetry and music themed around gratitude.

On Radio 4, Dr Rowan Williams on Sunday Worship will discuss the meaning of VE Day in the context of the challenge posed to the nation by coronavirus.

Radio 4 Extra will present an adaptation of Stephen Lowe’s play Touched while BBC local radio will be asking the nation to decorate their front windows with special bunting to mark the 75th anniversary.

Tony Hall, BBC director general, said: “At a time when many are looking for unity and hope, the BBC will bring households together to remember the past, pay tribute to the Second World War generation and honour our heroes both then and now.”

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