Eddie Izzard to play unsung Scottish scientist who helped thwart Hitler

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COMEDIAN Eddie Izzard’s is to star in a TV drama playing an unsung Scottish scientist who helped defeat Hitler.

Sir Robert Watson-Watt, from Brechin, Angus, invented radar, giving the RAF a crucial edge in its battle against German bombers.

The film, Castle in the Sky, which is currently being shot in Edinburgh, has been welcomed as giving long overdue recognition to Sir Robert, a descendant of steam engine creator James Watt.

Eddie Izzard will play the role of the unsung Scottish scientist Sir Robert Watson-Watt
Eddie Izzard will play the role of the unsung Scottish scientist Sir Robert Watson-Watt

Radar helped the RAF win the Battle of Britain, which meant they kept control of the skies and thwarted Hitler’s plans for a seaborne invasion.

City of Brechin Civic Trust chairman Brian Mitchell revealed the group has donated £5,000 to the film.

He said: “Brechin Civic Trust sees the film as worthy recognition of the man deemed by many as the greatest Brechiner of the 20th Century, as well as bringing welcome publicity to the town.”

The scientist's invention helped thwart the plans of Hitler
The scientist’s invention helped thwart the plans of Hitler

Former Brechiner, Arabella Page-Croft is a co-producer on the film, produced by Black Camel Pictures of Glasgow with director Gillies MacKinnon.

Mackinnon previously worked with Kate Winslet in Hideous Kinky and Regeneration with Jonny Lee Miller.

Sir Robert, who died in 1973, aged 81, is to be included in the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.

His response was a report on detecting aircraft by radio methods, and his theories later proved successful in a trial against a Heyford Bomber
His response was a report on detecting aircraft by radio methods, and his theories later proved successful in a trial against a Heyford Bomber

Planning permission has also been lodged for a plinth and area improvements around a statue in Brechin.

The bronze memorial to Watson-Watt has been completed by internationally-renowned sculptor Alan B Herriot and its in storage at an Edinburgh foundry. It will sit in St Ninian’s square as the Angus town’s first public statue.

He was educated at Brechin High School and studied at University College, Dundee, and was then put in charge of the Air Ministry’s Bawdsey Research Station near Felixstowe, Suffolk.

His work there resulted in a chain of radar stations being set up along the east and south coasts of England in time for the outbreak of war in 1939.

As war loomed in the 1930s, he was asked by the government to find a way to track aircraft amid fears the Nazis had developed a “death ray” which could destroy cities from the air.

His response was a report on detecting aircraft by radio methods, and his theories later proved successful in a trial against a Heyford Bomber.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is extraordinarily fitting that a film about the Chain Home Stations (incl. ‘Low’) (Post 1942 known as ‘RADAR’) developed by Robert Watson-Watt as part of the RAF’s integrated ‘Fighter Command’ is to be part made in East Lothian. For it was there on 16th October, 1939 that the first successful ‘radar-assisted’ fighter interception of WW2 in British Airspace took place during the first Nazi air raid of the war on the U.K. Tasked with attacking Royal Naval units ‘at sea’ (only) in the Firth of Forth, the Luftwaffe’s KG30, equiped with the new Ju88 aircraft under Helmut Pohle and Hans Sigmund Storp approached the coast. Despite ‘some disputed difficulties’ with the Chain Home site at Drome Hill, near Eyemouth, Berwickshire. the raid was picked up by other stations and both 603 & 602 Squadrons were ‘scrambled’ from Turnhouse (Edinburgh Airport) and Drem, East Lothian to respond. Although little publicised at the time, in what was the iconic Spitfire’s first successful action, 2 x Ju88’s were shot down into the icy waters of the Forth Estuary. The successful pilots, 603’s Pat Gifford, who beat George Pinkerton of 602 by 8 or 9 minutes by downing Storp’s plane before George brought down Pohle; both Ju88s crashing into the icy waters of the Firth. All enduring survivors 4 in number, including both pilots were rescued by local Port Seton fishing boats. The event is recalled on the recently released ‘Great tapestry of Scotland,’ the world’s largest, which can be seen until 8th December, 2013 at Cockenzie House, Port Seton, East Lothian. A memorial project is at an early stage as described at http://www.spitfire.cockenzieheritage.co.uk, and any further information can be had at [email protected]. David J.Ostler

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