Christmas Under Fire (2002)

A year-by-year account of how Christmas was celebrated in Britain during World War II.


Jamie Muir


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alan Bennett ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Jane Bertish Jane Bertish ... Herself - Reader (voice)
James Fenton James Fenton ... Himself - Reader (voice)
Nicholas Ball ... Himself - Reader (voice)
Robert Bathurst ... Himself - Reader (voice)
Hermione Gulliford ... Herself - Reader (voice)
Anna Massey ... Herself - Reader (voice)
Dave Herman Dave Herman ... Himself - Reader (voice) (as David Herman)
Ian Masters Ian Masters ... Himself - Reader (voice)
Kerry Shale ... Himself - Reader (voice)
Michael Smee Michael Smee ... Himself - Reader (voice)
Jay Villiers Jay Villiers ... Himself - Reader (voice) (as Jay Villers)
Joanna Roberts Joanna Roberts ... Herself
Neville Chamberlain ... Himself (archive footage)
Hilda Hollingsworth Hilda Hollingsworth ... Herself


Christmas traditions and rituals were harder to observe during the years of World War II, but effort was still made to celebrate the festive season. This documentary provides accounts from interviews and contemporary writings, as well as rare newsreels and home movie footage that capture the spirit of Christmas in wartime Britain. Written by thomaswake16

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Plot Keywords:

christmas | world war two | See All (2) »


Documentary | War



Official Sites:

BBC History





Release Date:

24 December 2002 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Black and White (archive footage)| Color
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Did You Know?


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User Reviews

Produces a strong sense of period and people that covers for some weaknesses in the delivery
18 April 2008 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Although made several years ago, I had not seen this film until it was screened at Christmas in 2007 and took the opportunity to see it. In several regards it is not that great a film and the thing that hit me most consistently about it in terms of weaknesses is the fact that the structure seems a bit messy. This was weird because it had a ready-made structure by taking a chronological approach to the material but perhaps it has come about due to the ambition of trying to cover so much ground.

OK so the bits between the various Christmases during WWII are summarised but it is still quite ambitious to try and sum up years of experiences in 90 minutes. What it does do very well though is to capture people and period. It does this by heavily utilising pictures and film from the time as well as getting solid contributions from a handful of people. The effect is to see into a period with real clarity and a sense of proximity even though people of my generation in the West will never have to experience anything like the hardships experienced in WWII (and for that matter the many, many worse situations around the world today). This is what drives the film forward and made me interested it in. Bennett's narration is surprisingly lifeless and I had not expected that from him – particularly where the film relates to the experiences of real people; fortunately he is sparingly used as a narrator anyway.

Overall then a good documentary in the way that it takes the viewer to the time and place that it is covering. The archive footage and selection of contributors are well chosen and utilised to cover up the weakness that I felt were in the structure and narrator-led delivery and it is worth seeing for the former despite the latter.

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