VE Day celebrations: Your online guide
James R | On 08, May 2020
This weekend sees the UK enjoy a rare Bank Holiday Friday to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the moment when fighting stopped in Europe at the end of World War II. While street parties, parades and concerts would have been on the cards for the occasion, the coronavirus pandemic means that the VE Day anniversary will instead be marked by people at home across the country.
Fortunately, our digital age means that you can still join in national celebrations to commemorate the day, from streaming concerts to TV broadcasts – and, of course, a message from the Queen.
Here’s your guide to VE Day celebrations in lockdown. (For our full Bank Holiday entertainment guide, click here.)
The Nation Remembers – BBC One, 10.55am
To mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Sophie Raworth introduces a national moment of remembrance to pay tribute to heroes of the past and present.
Royal British Legion Livestream – 11.15am
Grab a cup of tea and join the Royal British Legion for an 80-minute show, which brings the World War II generation together with today’s generation to chat about their shared experiences. Presented by newsreader Sonali Shah, the programme will include a foreward from Dame Vera Lynn read by actress Lesley Sharp, stories from VE Day veterans, Dame Joan Collins talking about wartime experiences as an evacuee, an interview with paralympic athlete Baroness Grey-Thompson about her grandfather’s wartime experience on the home front, a VE Day fritters recipe, music from Alfie Boe and a performance of We’ll Meet Again from the combined Military and NHS virtual orchestra. Visit the RBL website to watch.
The Announcement of Victory – BBC One, 2:45pm
Sophie Raworth presents a special tribute to the Second World War generation, including stirring military music, moving personal testimony and readings from VIPS and celebrities. At the heart of the broadcast is Churchill’s powerful address to the nation, in which he declared ‘we may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing’, leading millions to celebrate the end of the war in Europe.
We’ll Meet Again – Royal Albert Hall, 6pm
The Royal Albert Hall will stream a concert for free on YouTube, featuring Katherine Jenkins singing We’ll Meet Again. The concert will give the nation a moment to pay tribute to the fallen men and women of World War II and salute the country’s VE Day Veterans, many of whom are experiencing uncertainty and isolation. It is also an opportunity to thank the Armed Forces who, alongside the NHS and many others, are coming together to serve the country. Welsh mezzo soprano Jenkins will sing wartime favourites including The White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again – the latter performed as a virtual duet with Dame Vera Lynn and featuring Classic BRIT Award winning saxophonist Jess Gillam. The concert starts at 6pm.
The People’s Celebration – BBC One, 8pm
To mark the 75th anniversary of VE day, the BBC and the Royal British Legion honour and celebrate the Second World War generation with an evening of memories and music. Featuring some of those who remember this historic day, and performers including Adrian Lester and Anton Du Beke. The programme starts at 8pm and will climax with a nationwide singalong of We’ll Meet Again at 9pm. An address by the Queen follows.
Captain Tom’s War – ITV, 8pm
The former British Army Officer who raised more than £28million for the NHS by walking 100 lengths of his garden with his frame, actually fought in Burma and shares his memories of the conflict to draw attention to the “forgotten war” on the occasion. Airing just a week after his own centenary celebrations, this half-hour programme sees Tom look back on his time during the War in the brutal Burma campaign, as a million Allied troops from 40 nations attempted to repel the invading forces of Imperial Japan from the British colony over almost three years, between 1941 and 1944.
VE Day: Remembering Victory – BBC One, 9.10pm
Seventy-five years on, some of Britain’s best-loved entertainers and broadcasters recall the jubilation of that unforgettable day – including Patrick Stewart, Anne Reid, David Attenborough and Miriam Margolyes.
VE Day in Colour: Britain’s Biggest Party – All 4
With new accounts and unseen archive footage, the story of the day in May 1945 when the fighting stopped across Europe and the celebrations began.