ITV to screen major documentary marking 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster

Rescue workers digging in the wreckage of the school engulfed by a mountain of coal at Aberfan. 116 children and 28 adults were killed. Credit: PA

A major peak-time documentary to mark the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster has been commissioned by ITV.

ITV’s factual production arm Shiver will be working in partnership with ITV Cymru Wales on Aberfan (working-title), the hour-long film, which will be directed by multi-award-winning director Marc Evans (Safe House, Hinterland, Collision, Jack to a King, House of America).

It will be made by a Cardiff based team under the newly-created Shiver Cymru banner and will be produced by Jonathan Hill, editor of English language programmes at ITV Cymru Wales.

It was commissioned by Tom Giles, Controller, Current Affairs, ITV.

A view of the school wrecked by coal sludge which avalanched down the mountainside when a coal tip collapsed above Aberfan. Credit: PA

The documentary will look at how the spirit of Aberfan has endured since the tragic day on 21st October 1966 when the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip killed 116 children and 28 adults in the village school.

It will feature interviews with some of the people affected by the tragedy and also make use of ITV’s extensive archive footage of the disaster and its aftermath.

Soldiers and miners at work amid the wreckage after a coal tip slid down the mountain and buried children in their school. Credit: PA

We’re pleased to be working with our colleagues at ITV Wales to produce this landmark film. It’s fitting that Shiver Cymru should be launched on a project that commemorates such a momentous chapter in the story of modern Wales.

Mike Blair, Executive Producer, Shiver

The Aberfan disaster was a tragedy on an unimaginable scale, an event that shocked the world. We hope that the film will reflect the dignity and spirit of the people of Aberfan over the past half century since that fateful day in 1966.

Jonathan Hill, Editor of English language programmes, ITV Cymru Wales
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit the disaster village of Aberfan. Credit: PA

What happened in Aberfan 50 years ago was a national tragedy. We hope this film will also offer a fitting and powerful testament to a community that has quietly rebuilt itself. And that it will help younger generations, to whom the story of Aberfan may be less familiar, to understand the impact it still has today.

Tom Giles, Controller, Current Affairs, ITV

The production will build on the success of recent Shiver/ITV Cymru Wales commissions for the network current affairs series, Tonight.