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Coronation Year in Colour
In the sixteen months following the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II in February 1952, Britain moved from the grey of post-war austerity to a Technicolor world filled with hope and possibilities, a transformation most potently symbolised by the Coronation of a beautiful young Queen. Using compelling interviews and rare archive footage –much of it amateur home movies - Coronation Year in Colour immerses the audience in the joys, realities and quirks of everyday life in Britain.
At the heart of this film are the stories of people leading average lives which transport the audience back into the heart of the 1950s nuclear family. We discover what food mums put on the table; how families entertained themselves in the evening and where the hotspots for the annual holiday were. We explore the working world and see just what was available to buy on shopping trips. And we see the new opportunities provided by grammar schools and care from the NHS.
Our story tellers are ordinary people who turn out to have extraordinary links to the Coronation. Michael Skinner was a young tailor from Reading who dressed the Peers of the Realm, including Winston Churchill, for the service – and remembers Churchill refusing to wear the right hat! Skinner later sneaked to the top of one of the Abbey’s towers where he beheld the full splendour of Elizabeth’s entrance. Schoolgirl Heather Morgan from South Wales camped out on the Mall where she got very wet and hoarse from cheering every arrival as loudly as if they were pop stars. Seeing the Queen inspired Heather to believe that girls could achieve whatever they wanted to in life.
We also hear from those with prominent roles in the ceremony itself, such as the Queen’s Maids of Honour. Their memories of the year add some delicious insider looks at the event itself. For example, Lady Anne Coke’s dress was too tight, and the Archbishop of Canterbury had to give her a nip of brandy during a break so that she wouldn’t faint!
Other interviewees have more intimate Coronation stories like Scottish schoolgirl Christina Todd, who lived in the mining village of Blackburn, where she was elected ‘Gala Queen’ of her village’s Coronation celebrations and became the star of a short film which captured the day’s events.
Added colour will be given to stories like these from celebrities who also recall their life in that year clearly such as Gloria Hunniford who also features as a small girl on newly discovered amateur footage from her hometown Coronation celebrations in Portadown.
The film’s narrative is illustrated by exceptional archive material: footage of street gatherings; queues for de-rationed sweets; enchanting holiday sequences; and material of people at work which tell an amazingly vibrant picture of what it was like to live in Britain during an incredible 16 months, when the country changed from grey to Technicolor.
Producer: Grace Chapman
Archive Researcher: Emma Haw
Assistant producer: Katie Daughen
Production Manager: Emma Wood
Film Editor: Jeremy Irwin
Executive Producer: Emma Read