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D-Day has been re-created in literature, TV, film – and even video games – across the last eight decades.

The largest amphibious invasion in history – when Allied forces landed on the coast in northern France on 6 June 1944 – was an event that changed the course of history. So, it’s no surprise it’s made an impression on the big screen.

We’re revisiting 13 of the best-known screen adaptations – and with the help of three top historians – helping you pick the best of the bunch to mark D-Day’s 80th anniversary.

THE HISTORIANS:
Paul Woodadge: British D-Day historian, YouTuber, author of two Second World War books including Angels Of Mercy and self-described “D-Day nerd”
Dr Peter Caddick-Adams: British military historian and author of books including Sand & Steel: A New History Of D-Day
Joseph Balkoski: American military historian and author of eight Second World War books including Omaha Beach: D-Day

Pic: 20thCentFox/Everett/Shutterstock
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Pic: 20thCentFox/Everett/Shutterstock

FILM: D-Day The Sixth Of June, 1956
WHAT IT IS: Romance starring Robert Taylor, Richard Todd and Dana Wynter
PLOT: A classic love triangle, where a British lieutenant and an American paratrooper fight for the affection of one woman.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The D-Day scenes were shot in California using only 80 extras, cleverly using the projection of another take of the same scene in the background to give the impression there were twice as many soldiers on the beach.
TRIVIA: Todd, who participated in the Normandy landings in real life, wore his original beret in the movie. He also wore it in the next film we look at, The Longest Day.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “Historically it’s awful. Taylor – who was the dreamboat all the women wanted to be with – is clunky and very theatrical. I don’t think it was very good in the 1950s, and it’s just dreadful now… The film has very few redeeming features. It’s best watched and then immediately forgotten. I give it one out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – PETER: “It’s a movie we’ve seen a million times before, dressed up as being on D-Day. When it was made in 1956, we still had national service and many of the people who saw it had lived through the war. So, the characters wearing a uniform in the right way, carrying the right weapons, and doing the right things when they were climbing cliffs for example was important. The actual craft, the setting and the costumes carry it through… but the screenplay really cheats, and that’s why it’s largely been forgotten. I give it five out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 3

D-Day latest: World leaders join veterans in Normandy

Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

 (1645672a).The Longest Day,  John Wayne.Film and Television
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Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

FILM: The Longest Day, 1962
WHAT IT IS: Action starring John Wayne, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Richard Todd and Richard Burton
PLOT: D-Day told from both the Allied and German point of view. The movie had four directors, with German scenes directed by a German director, the British by a British director, American by an American director and French by a French director – and all spoken in their own language too.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: One of the most expensive films ever made, it was billed as featuring a whopping “48 international stars”. Sean Connery wasn’t a big name when he filmed it, but Doctor No came out between filming and editing, and so they whacked him up the billing for release.
TRIVIA: Despite the starry cast, the guy playing Dwight Eisenhower was actually an Oscar-winning set decorator called Henry Grace who was painting in the studios that day and happened to look a lot like the former president. Not the best actor in the world, his voice was dubbed over to improve the performance.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “It still holds up. If you were wanting to try and explain D-Day to someone and you had three hours, it would be a very good way of explaining it. A young audience might find it a bit slow-paced but it’s not overly heroic and is fairly based in reality. I give it eight out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – JOSEPH: “I think it’s far and away the best D-Day film that people can watch, and I urge them to make it their go-to D-Day film. It captures the aura and the immensity of the day and does it in a relatively accurate way. My father, who served in World War Two, was very moved by the film. If he was a combat veteran and he saw something in that movie that says something right there. I give it 10 out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 9

Pic: Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock 

5874348f).Julie Andrews, James Garner.The Americanization Of Emily - 1964.Director: Arthur Hiller.MGM.USA.Scene Still.Comedy.Les Jeux de l'amour et de la guerre
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Pic: Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock

FILM: The Americanization Of Emily, 1964
WHAT IT IS:
Comedy starring Julie Andrews and James Garner
PLOT: A cynical US Navy commander becomes an accidental war hero and finds love in the process.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: At a time when war films were all about heroes, this movie puts a coward at its centre, and explored the unexpected consequences of a media-misunderstanding propelling a reluctant man to the status of national hero.
TRIVIA: Actress Sharon Tate appears as an uncredited extra in the film, as a guest at a party. The scene itself was filmed on 22 November 1963, the same day as President John F Kennedy was assassinated.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “This is not bad. Made in the 1960s, a lot of the original audience would have been World War Two veterans and Korea veterans. Julie Andrews is just gorgeous in it. I would recommend watching it – but its old-fashioned humour means you won’t find it funny. It’s certainly not a laugh-a-minute. I give it eight out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – JOSEPH: “It was somewhat risqué for its time… It did kind of capture the chaos and the violence of the moment in a comedic way, if such a thing is possible. I was dragged to that movie as a teenager because my sister was an absolute devoted fan of Julie Andrews. But I did enjoy it. I give it six out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 7

Read more:
Why German snipers spared the life of Mad Piper on beaches

Eleven things you might not know about D-Day

Pic: Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock
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Pic: Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock

FILM: 36 Hours, 1964
WHAT IT IS: Thriller starring James Garner, Rod Taylor and Eva Marie Saint
PLOT: An American major is captured by Nazis who try to convince him he’s lost his memory and six years have passed, in a bid to get him to reveal details about the Allied invasion.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: It’s based on short story, Beware Of The Dog, written by author Roald Dahl in 1944, and first published in Harper’s magazine.
TRIVIA: The movie features a very clever MacGuffin (a term made popular by Alfred Hitchcock describing a device that is essential to plot forward, but which has no significance in itself). Try to spot it if you’re watching it for the first time.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “This is one of my favourite films about World War Two. It starts off as a thriller, then becomes an escape movie. It’s a bit Mission Impossible, with one of the most inventive little MacGuffins in a movie ever. I give it 10 out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – PETER: “This is science fiction meets D-Day. The premise of shifting time is interesting, and I think the theme of extracting secrets from each other was given extra significance by the Cold War. Of course, when the film was being made, your opponent would have been a communist rather than a German. The 36-hour structure is a good idea because it means time is ticking down all the while. It’s an ambitious ask and reminds me of Mission Impossible. I give it five out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 7.5

Pic: Everett/Shutterstock
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Pic: Everett/Shutterstock

FILM: The Dirty Dozen, 1967
WHAT IT IS: Action starring Lee Marvin, Donald Sutherland, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas and Ernest Borgnine
PLOT: A dozen American convicted murderers are sent to assassinate Nazis in northern France ahead of D-Day.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: A comic book version of World War Two, the plot of the movie is said to be very loosely based on a real group of paratroopers called the “Filthy 13” who were part of the 101st Airborne Division, and while not convicts, were known to enjoy their share of drinking and fighting.
TRIVIA: A remake of the movie was announced in 2019, with The Fast And The Furious screenwriter David Ayers at the helm. Four years later it’s still in development, with Ayers describing a “nerve-wracking” process of trying to “modernise something and build it out for a modern audience, while at the same time keeping that DNA”. Watch this space.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “It’s very macho – your testosterone levels increase just watching it. But it’s a brilliant cast and actually quite complex as a character study, taking an hour and a half to get anywhere near the action. A classic, and a bit of a “blokes’ movie,” it’s the kind of film they don’t make anymore. I give it eight out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – PETER: “There’s no attempt at great filmmaking here, this is Hollywood simply trying to coin a lot of money out of a lot of bangs. There is an attempt at characterisation, but only on the Allied side, the Germans don’t have names. Along the way there’s a Hollywood budget of an enormous number of explosions to be triggered, hundreds of rounds of ammunition to be fired, and lots of smoke to be thrown around. It’s a macho flick, trying to reinvent the western in Second World War terms. But it’s certainly lasted the course. I give it six out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 7

Pic: 20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock
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Pic: 20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

FILM: Patton, 1970
WHAT IT IS: A biography starring George C Scott and Karl Malden, with a screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola (who went on to direct The Godfather)
PLOT: Controversial American General George S Patton’s career is examined through the lens of World War Two (he wasn’t in charge of an actual invading force on the day but led a deception force in a bid to fool the Germans).
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The movie’s famous opening scene is Patton giving a motivational speech to troops in front of an enormous US flag. While the lead star George C Scott had a gravelly, authoritative voice, the real-life General Patton had squeaky, nasal tones, and so would revert to using expletives in important speeches to inject authority. The movie had to tone down swearing to avoid an R rating.
TRIVIA: Scott won an Oscar for his performance (the movie also won best picture,) but turned it down as he disliked the concept of acting competitions.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “This is a clever movie, written in a way that appeals to two audiences. If you were a serving American military officer, you watched it as a warring biography of one of America’s greatest heroes. If you were a Woodstock-going hippie, you thought it was a scathing biopic of the idiocy of men at war. And both audiences thought it was for them. It says a lot about why people go to war and what leadership does. I give it seven out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – JOSEPH: “This film is well made with tremendous acting. When you look back, it does have some historical flaws – the movie starting with the death of Patton’s aid, the storyline skipping over Patton’s philandering and a tinge of cynicism over the British contribution to World War Two, which is very typical in American films. But I think overall the movie stands up to scrutiny, I was moved by it. I give it nine out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 8

Read more on D-Day:
How a framed photo of veteran’s wife saved his life
The 21-year-old’s weather report that changed the course of history

Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock
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Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

FILM: Overlord, 1975
WHAT IT IS: Action starring Brian Stirner and Davyd Harries
PLOT: A young British soldier prepares to join the fray of World War Two.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: A whopping 27% of the film is made up of Imperial War Museum archive footage, actually shot in World War Two.
TRIVIA: A labour of love for director Stuart Cooper – who appeared as an actor in The Dirty Dozen playing Private Roscoe Lever – the majority of the newly shot scenes which make up the narrative story of the movie were filmed in just 10 days.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “This is two films in one – one of which is brilliant and one of which is not. The archive stuff is great, but the narrative was shot on the equivalent of £2.50 and a packet of crisps. The lead actor, Brian Steiner, has the charisma of a wet haddock, and it’s all close shots because they haven’t got enough people to fill out the parade ground for training scenes. When it comes to the culmination of D-Day, you cut from real footage where there are millions of ships and men, to [a scene] filmed in a swimming pool. Two people jump out of a cardboard landing craft. I’m exaggerating, but not much. It’s a worthy effort but ultimately fails. I give it five out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – PETER: “This is a creature of its time, coming out when anti-militarism was at its height both in the UK and US. It’s rebellious, young filmmaking questioning authority and asking what the value of an individual’s life is. Really, a First World War anti-war movie set in D-Day. All the way through you are given the notion that [the lead character’s] going to die and you’re not disappointed. You can see it coming a mile off. An anthem for doomed youth, Wilfred Owen could have written this screenplay. On the plus side, there aren’t many movies that take you through the training for a major military action, and it’s frantically well-researched in terms of visuals and accuracy. I give it six out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 5.5

Pic: Lorimar/Kobal/Shutterstock
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Pic: Lorimar/Kobal/Shutterstock

FILM: The Big Red One, 1980
WHAT IT IS: Action starring Mark Hamill and Lee Marvin
PLOT: A US sergeant and four of his soldiers battle across Europe, towards the end of World War Two.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Director Sam Fuller fought on Omaha Beach on D-Day, and the movie is about his experience as a World War Two soldier.
TRIVIA: Beset with development issues since the idea for the movie was first floated in the late 1950s, the film saw its budget cut halfway through production and was heavily cut on release. In 2004 (seven years after Fuller’s death) a new cut was released adding 47 minutes to the running time, bringing it more closely in line with the director’s original vision.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “This film is very Marmite. Yes, Lee Marvin was way too old for the role of sergeant. But it’s very clever with its language, and only uses the kind of thing soldiers would say at the time. But to say a bigger thing, I think it’s one of the most worthy attempts to try and show what men who go through combat actually experience. It came out the same year as The Empire Strikes Back, which also starred Mark Hamill, but failed to hit the box office in the same way. It’s a shame. I give it nine out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – JOSEPH: “I found this movie to be ludicrous. It has a bit of a cult status in America, but for me, the inaccuracies crossed the line of being so grotesque it was annoying. With such a low budget it was ridiculous to attempt to depict D-Day and is an insult to the historical professional. The scripting was just absurd, and completely implausible, as was the hypothesis for the whole plot. I watched it once and have no desire ever to see it again. I give it three out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 6

Pic: Everett/Shutterstock
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Pic: Everett/Shutterstock

FILM: Saving Private Ryan, 1998
WHAT IT IS: Action starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore and Edward Burns, directed by Steven Spielberg
PLOT: A group of American soldiers go on a mission to locate one of their men – Private Ryan – and bring him home safely.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The movie’s opening scene depicts Allied soldiers storming Omaha Beach and took around 1,500 people and a month to film. Capturing the true horror or war, the viewer – like the lead characters – spends 24 minutes experiencing the chaos, the bloodshed and the blind terror of combat.
TRIVIA: Unable to film in Normandy, due to the built-up nature of the area, the D-Day landing was filmed in Ireland, on Ballinesker Beach. Milk of Magnesia was used to create the illusion of soldiers vomiting from boats and dead fish were put in the water and across the shore. Despite fake blood and sand getting stuck on the handheld cameras used to film the action, the shots were still used as Spielberg believed it made the footage look all the more authentic.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. It broke the mould of how war films were made. Yes, there are incorrect details – German obstacles being the wrong way around and bunkers of the wrong type- but it grips you. It puts blood and death in your face. The scene where the medic dies, at the test screening, everyone said, ‘Oh God, that scene was so uncomfortable’. So, Spielberg made it longer. It changed World War film moviemaking and had a global impact which is all credit to Spielberg. I give it eight out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – JOSEPH: “While I didn’t really enjoy it, it’s a very pivotal film in the development of the public’s interest in World War Two. The plot is absurd and presents a remarkably American-centric view of the war. And it made some historical whoppers, triggering outrage among British veterans – particularly Royal Navy veterans – when the film was released after Spielberg said British fighters were not involved in the Omaha Beach landing. He made a big mistake and it was a major flaw in the movie. They blew it on the essential research. I give it six out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 7

Pic: David James/Hbo/20th Century Fox/Dream Works/Kobal/Shutterstock 

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by David James/Hbo/20th Century Fox/Dream Works/Kobal/Shutterstock (5883529m)
Damian Lewis
Band Of Brothers - 2001
Hbo / 20th Century Fox / Dream Works
USA
Television
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Pic: David James/HBO/20th Century Fox/Dream Works/Kobal/Shutterstock

TV SHOW: Band Of Brothers, 2001
WHAT IT IS: Miniseries starring Damian Lewis, Kirk Acevedo, Scott Grimes, Donnie Wahlberg, Ron Livingstone, David Schwimmer and Dexter Fletcher, with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks as executive producers
PLOT: The show follows Easy Company of the US Army 101st Airborne Division and their missions in Europe across World War Two.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: In a bid to be as historically accurate as possible, most actors spoke with real veterans ahead of filming, and some veterans came to the set. Many of the actors who starred in the show have gone on to play a part in memorial events in the years following, and even have an active WhatsApp group to stay in touch with one another – such was the impact the show had on their lives.
TRIVIA: At the time of filming, this was the most expensive miniseries ever made, costing around $125m (£98m) for 10 episodes. An additional $15m (£12m) was spent on supporting events, including special screenings for Easy Company veterans, with one held on Utah Beach in Normandy.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “This is the best World War Two production ever made and has never been surpassed. Lightning struck when they made this. The Why We Fight episode about the Holocaust is taught in Holocaust studies all around the world and has brought the Holocaust to a new generation. It explained duty and sacrifice. Every actor nails it, and the cinematography and music is spot-on. It’s phenomenal, timeless and perfect. I give it a hard ten if not an 11.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – JOSEPH: “This is far and away the best Word War Two series ever made. It exceeds the portrayal of D-Day in The Longest Day in terms of accuracy and tension and was based on a well-written history book, whereas Saving Private Ryan was a made-up story. It really captured actual events, and was devoid of that American-centric stuff, even though it was about an American unit. It was very fair to other nations that participated. I can’t think of a negative. I give it 10 out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 10

Pic:  © 2024 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved
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Pic: © 2024 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved

TV: Ike: Countdown To D-Day, 2004
WHAT IT IS: TV movie starring Tom Selleck
PLOT: A portrait of General Dwight Eisenhower preparing the Allied troops for D-Day.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Many people rank this among Selleck’s best screen performances, but the fact it was a made-for-TV movie means it has largely gone under the radar. Fans of Selleck may well feel cheated this movie didn’t get better recognition.
TRIVIA: A bit of a continuity nit-picking here – We see a snatch of Laurence Olivier’s movie Henry V being shown in the film, which was set in the spring of 1944. But the Shakespearean movie was not released until the autumn of 1944.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “This is pretty damn good – once you’ve got over the fact that Tom Selleck isn’t playing Magnum, or Monica’s boyfriend from Friends. Selleck humanised Eisenhower and is surprisingly good. I also appreciate that it didn’t exploit the fact that Eisenhower may or may not have had an affair with his British driver, Kay Summersby. It had good historical advisers behind it and was authentic. It didn’t get the plaudits it deserved. I give it eight out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – JOSEPH: “Selleck captured Eisenhower very well. It’s fair to say the film features a lot of men sitting around in rooms talking, but it was very well done. It captures how Eisenhower had to deal with very difficult personalities like Montgomery and to some extent Churchill and how [Eisenhower] was such an agreeable person that he took all these diverse people and brought them together for a unified purpose. I enjoyed the film. I give it eight out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 8

Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock (8852518h)
Brian Cox
Churchill - 2017
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Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

FILM: Churchill, 2017
WHAT IT IS: Historical war drama starring Brian Cox and Miranda Richardson
PLOT: We follow former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the days leading up to D-Day.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The film received mixed reviews on release but was largely derided for playing it fast and loose with the facts. Noted Churchill biographer Andrew Roberts was particularly scathing, saying it rendered the former British PM practically unrecognisable.
TRIVIA: Gary Oldman was originally offered the part of Churchill but turned it down. He’d go on to win an Oscar for his portrayal of Churchill in Darkest Hour just a year later.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “When historians come out in their truckloads to lambast a film you know it’s done badly. While it’s true that Churchill had a phobia of amphibious landings, this presents him as a pacifist or hippie, which he was not. It’s a dreadful film – don’t inflict it on yourself. I give it one out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – JOSEPH: “The portrayal of Churchill vis-a-vis the D-Day operation was highly inaccurate. Churchill was portrayed in the film as being violently opposed to the operation and it was a vast exaggeration of his actual position. I don’t remember much about the movie because I was so appalled by it. I give it three out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 2

Pic: Pathe Films/Everett/Shutterstock

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage..Mandatory Credit: Photo by Pathe Films/Everett/Shutterstock (14209340cg).THE GREAT ESCAPER, British poster, from left: Glenda Jackson, Michael Caine, 2023. .. Pathe Pictures International / Courtesy Everett Collection.Everett Collection - 2023
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Pic: Pathe Films/Everett/Shutterstock

FILM: The Great Escaper, 2023
WHAT IT IS: Biographical drama starring Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson
PLOT: An 89-year-old British World War Two Navy veteran breaks out of his nursing home to go to the 70th anniversary D-Day commemorations in France. It’s based on the true story of D-Day veteran Bernard Jordan.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This is swansong for both its lead stars. Sir Michael Caine, who is now 91, has said it’s his final film, while Glenda Jackson, CBE, died just a few weeks after watching a screening of the finished film in the summer of 2023, aged 87.
TRIVIA: Caine and Jackson had starred opposite each other in the drama The Romantic Englishwoman 48 years earlier, again playing husband and wife.
HISTORIAN VIEW – PAUL: “This film is superb. Due to COVID restrictions, they couldn’t film in Normandy, so it’s shot entirely in UK, recreating the Arromanches in East Sussex at Camber Sands and Hastings. It deals with reconciliation and dealing with trauma that you’ve been bottling away for a long time. Michael Caine – who was an Army veteran in Korea in real life – is so tied up with the genre of war films, that him coming back as an elderly actor, almost revisiting the characters he played as a young man, works well. It’s a beautifully charming film and I give it nine out of 10.”
HISTORIAN VIEW – PETER: “This film is absolutely gorgeous. You’ll need a bucket and an industrial-sized pack of handkerchiefs to help you get through it. It’s the experience of every old soldier going back to their battlefield and about the fading of warriors and how they fade. Everybody has a relative or grandparent who would have been the Jackson or Caine character, who came through that period, and sat us on their knee and said, ‘Let me tell you about the Blitz, or let me tell you about rationing, or let me tell you about those Americans who came over with their chewing gum and their jiving’. It’s beautifully acted and comes across as deep and genuine. I give it 10 out of 10.”
COMBINED SCORE OUT OF 10: 9.5

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Jay Slater: ‘Living nightmare’ hunt for missing British teenager on Tenerife enters sixth day

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Jay Slater: 'Living nightmare' hunt for missing British teenager on Tenerife continues

Helicopters, rescue dogs and drones have continued to scour the holiday island of Tenerife for a missing British teenager as concerned family and friends endure a “living nightmare”.

The hunt for 19-year-old Jay Slater from Oswaldtwistle, near Blackburn in Lancashire, is now in its sixth day.

Lancashire Constabulary said that while the case “falls outside the jurisdiction of UK policing”, it has offered to support Spanish police “if they need any additional resources”.

The force added: “They have confirmed that at this time they are satisfied that they have the resources they need, but that offer remains open and they will contact us should that position change.”

Jay Slater. Pic: Lucy Law
Image:
Jay Slater. Pic: Lucy Law

The apprentice bricklayer was holidaying with friends on Tenerife before he disappeared on Monday.

He was last heard from when he called a friend to say he was setting off on an 11-hour walk to get home, after he missed his bus.

Emergency workers near the village of Masca, Tenerife.
Pic: PA
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Pic: PA

Ofelia Medina Hernandez, who was the last person to see Mr Slater, told Sky News: “I saw the boy in the morning, at around 8am.

“He asked twice what time the bus came.

“I told him ‘at 10 o’clock’.

“He came back and asked me again, and I told him again – at 10 o’clock.

“After that, he walked off and I didn’t see him anymore.

“Later, I went in my car, and I saw him – he was walking fast.

“But I didn’t see him again after that.”

Her account came as photographs showed the property where he was last seen in the northwestern mountain village of Masca after attending the NRG music festival.

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Pic: PA

Pic: PA
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Pic: PA

‘We are drained beyond words’

In a post on the Facebook page Jay Slater Missing, the administrator of the group Rachel Louise Harg said family and friends were “drained beyond words”.

She said: “There isn’t an update for anyone unfortunately.

“Struggling to find words at this time but all I can say is we are looking still and everyone is doing all they can.

“We are drained beyond words – I just can’t say no more, I wish I could.

“I wish this would end now, this living nightmare.

“Searches are ongoing and we remain positive.

“Thanks to you all supporting and helping we can’t thank you any more, much love.”

Read more on Sky News:
British tourist stabbed to death outside nightclub
Italian football legend robbed at gunpoint

Focus on unusual details will only grow


Shingi Mararike

Shingi Mararike

North of England correspondent

@ShingiMararike

In the mountains on the outskirts of northern Tenerife, a narrow road winds upwards, with a dramatic view of the sea below.

Beneath the beauty of the scenery, parts of the area where British teenager Jay Slater was last located are barren and remote.

One of the properties on the route through the national park is Casa Abuela Tina, the villa Jay travelled to with two men in the early hours of Monday, before he disappeared.

Just yards away from the villa’s front door you can see the bus stop that would have taken Jay back to Los Cristianos – the part of the island he was staying in near a bustling strip full of British tourists.

The teenager was agonisingly close to being able to make his way home – and as search teams comb the mountains, that fact will surely be on their minds.

Why did Jay decide to try the 11-hour walk, and why did he go to the villa with two strangers in the first place?

As the search continues, a focus on highly unusual details of this story will only grow.

Searchers check river at bottom of ravine

On Friday, search and rescue personnel joined officers from the island’s Guardia Civil near Masca to comb an area of overgrown terrain.

Teams also paid close attention to a river called Barranco Madre del Agua at the bottom of a ravine, where emergency workers carefully picked their way through fallen dead palm trees.

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Mr Slater’s friend Lucy Law, who attended the music festival with him, said he called her at about 8.30am on Monday and told her he was “lost in the mountains, he wasn’t aware of his surroundings, he desperately needed a drink and his phone was on 1%”.

Meanwhile, members of the local community rallied together at a church service in his home town to express their hope of his safe return.

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesman said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has been reported missing in Spain and are in contact with the local authorities.”

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Keir Starmer attends Taylor Swift concert – and fans are quick to make puns

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Keir Starmer attends Taylor Swift concert - and fans are quick to make puns

Sir Keir Starmer took a break from the campaign trail to watch Taylor Swift perform at Wembley Stadium.

The Labour leader made a “swift” pitstop for the first night of the London leg of the American pop star’s record-breaking Eras tour.

Election latest: Farage criticised for ‘disgraceful’ comments on Ukraine war

Swift is performing three gigs in the capital this weekend – before returning to the venue in August for a further five.

Sir Keir posted a picture alongside his wife Victoria on X with the caption: “Swift campaign pitstop.”

Referring to some of Swift’s song titles, fans joined in on the puns including: “Change (Keir’s Version)” and “I Can Fix The Country (No Really I Can)”.

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Swifties flock to Wembley Stadium for Eras Tour

Others quipped that the PM hopeful was “about to ‘shake off’ 14 years of Tory chaos” and that it had been a “Cruel Summer” for his political opponent Rishi Sunak.

Sir Keir, currently 20-points ahead in the polls, has previously spoken about his love for music, naming Northern soul among his favourite genres, though he recently told The Financial Times that rapper Stormzy’s last album is “my favourite album at the moment”.

The Labour leader was not the only famous face in attendance at Swift’s concert.

The singer was supported by her NFL boyfriend Travis Kelce, while Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan and model Cara Delevingne were reportedly among the star-studded crowd.

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In pictures: Taylor Swift’s opening Wembley show

 Taylor Swift performs her first London concert at Wembley Stadium, during the Eras Tour. Picture date: Friday June 21, 2024. Ian West/PA Wire
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Taylor Swift performs her first London concert at Wembley Stadium. Pic: PA

Swift will return to the 90,000-capacity venue on Saturday evening and Sunday before moving on to mainland Europe, coming back to Wembley for another five dates in August.

Londoners have waited more than a year for the show to arrive after she kicked off her marathon string of dates in Glendale, Arizona, in March 2023.

She played three sold-out shows at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh earlier this month, followed by three at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool and one night at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

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Taylor-mania has taken hold of London in recent days, with the city’s iconic Tube map redrawn to celebrate her arrival.

Swift-fever even spread to Buckingham Palace earlier on Friday where Shake It Off was played at the traditional Changing of the Guard ceremony.

It was revealed on Thursday that Swift’s fans were expected to boost the London economy by £300m as the capital hosts more Eras Tour shows than any other city in the world, with nearly 640,000 people expected to attend across the eight dates.

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‘I was sleepwalking’: Can you kill someone while you’re asleep?

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'I was sleepwalking': Can you kill someone while you're asleep?

“I was sleepwalking,” a public schoolboy, wearing only his boxing shorts, was heard to say after brutally attacking two fellow students and a housemaster.

Henry Roffe-Silvester, a teacher at the exclusive boarding school, was awoken in the middle of the night by footsteps coming from the dormitory directly above.

He went to investigate, and as he opened the door to the pitch-dark room, he saw a silhouetted figure who turned and struck him on the head with a hammer.

“I stumbled backwards into the corridor,” said Mr Roffe-Silvester, during his attacker’s two-month trial. “There was a second blow – I can’t remember if it was before I stumbled back – that’s a little bit hazy for me.”

He suffered six blows to the head before managing to get the weapon off the boy he now recognised as one of his students, who “slumped down” in a squat position and was heard to say: “I was dreaming.”

When paramedics arrived at Blundell’s School in Tiverton, Devon, they found “carnage” like “a scene from a horror film” with blood over the desks, the walls and the cabin-style beds.

There was no question the boy, then 16, caused the “awful injuries” to the housemaster and two sleeping dorm-mates – both boys suffered skull fractures, as well as injuries to their ribs, spleen, a punctured lung and internal bleeding.

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Blundell's school, Tiverton, Devon
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Scene was ‘like horror film’

‘Zombie apocalypse’

He told a jury at Exeter Crown Court he kept hammers by his bed for “protection” from “the zombie apocalypse” or the end of the world.

He remembered going to sleep on 8 June last year, he said, and the next thing he recalled was being in the room which was “covered in blood”.

“I knew something really bad had gone on and everyone was looking towards me,” he said.

“I didn’t remember doing anything so the only rational thing I was thinking was that I was sleepwalking.”

Prosecutors said he had armed himself with three claw hammers, then waited for his victims to fall asleep before attacking them.

But his barrister, Kerim Fuad KC, said he must have been “sleepwalking to have committed these extraordinary acts” – meaning he would be not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity.

The history of the sleepwalking defence

The idea that acts of violence can be committed by people who are sleepwalking isn’t new – since the 14th century, the Catholic Church recognised the idea that a sleeper shouldn’t be held responsible for killing or injuring someone.

The first English case is believed to be the Old Bailey trial of Colonel Culpeper in 1686, who was said to have shot a guardsman and his horse during a dream. He was convicted of manslaughter while insane but pardoned a few weeks later.

More incidents came to light in the Victorian era as scientists began studying the mind, among them the famous case of Simon Fraser, a known sleepwalker, from Glasgow.

Believing he was saving his family from a wild beast that had burst through the floorboards, he killed his 18-month-old son by throwing him against a wall. He was cleared but was told by the judge to sleep alone in a locked room for the rest of his life.

Jules Lowe was cleared of murdering his father. Pic: PA
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Jules Lowe was cleared of murdering his father. Pic: PA

More recently, in 2005 Jules Lowe was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity and made the subject of a hospital order after claiming he was sleepwalking when he beat his father to death at the family home in Walkden, Greater Manchester, after a drinking session.

Three years later, father-of-two Brian Thomas strangled his wife Christine while they were on holiday in west Wales, believing an intruder had broken into their campervan.

The nightmare was suggested to have been triggered by an earlier incident when they were disturbed by youths doing wheel spins in the car park.

Thomas was described as a “decent man and a devoted husband” by the judge after being cleared of murder when prosecutors dropped the case.

The sleepwalking defence is rare – according to sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley, who was not involved in the Blundell’s case, and tells Sky News it has been successfully used just 200 times in the English-speaking world.

Sexsomnia

But it has become increasingly common over last 30 years, says Dr John Rumbold, a lecturer at the Nottingham Law School, who tells Sky News there is a growing number of sleep experts and a greater awareness among lawyers.

In the past, reported cases more commonly involved violence, he says, but now around 80% to 90% of cases involve sexsomnia, an extreme variant of sleepwalking, that can cause people to engage in sexual activity while unconscious.

“Very often it’s drunk young men” who are accused of rape or other sex offences, he says. “They don’t really have any other defence and it’s fairly complex actions.”

Dr Stanley believes that some people who are guilty have successfully used the defence in the past and says there is a lack of knowledge of the subject among judges, lawyers and juries.

What is sleepwalking and how common is it?

Around 5% to 10% of the adult population are believed to be regular sleepwalkers, according to experts, with the condition more common in children, peaking between the ages of nine and 13, and typically occurs in the first 90 minutes of sleep.

“We all have the capacity to sleepwalk,” says Dr Neil Stanley, who says some people will do it just once in their lives, while for others it’s a more regular occurrence.

He explains sleepwalking happens when the parts of the brain that control movement and speech wake up.

This can be triggered by anything that disturbs, sleep, such as medication, alcohol, drugs, or “sleeping on your mate’s couch after a few bevvies”.

Sleepwalking is so common that hotel staff may get training in how to deal with a semi-naked guest wandering the corridors.

But the stereotypical perception of a zombie-like state with eyes closed and arms stretched “is a nonsense”, says Dr Stanley.

“They can appear for all intents and purposes, to be awake. But what they can’t do is they cannot interact with the environment as though they were awake,” he says.

It usually involves “doing something that if you did it at 1pm fully clothed wouldn’t be of any interest”, but the “fact that you’re doing it at 1am and you’re in your PJs is probably the thing that differentiates it”.

Dr Stanley adds: “Sleepwalkers do things that are instinctual behaviours. So, they will go to the fridge and get a pint of milk, they will go to the toilet, which, if they’re in a hotel or staying over somewhere, means they pee in the wardrobe or more tragically go over the balcony and kill themselves.

“We know that some sleepwalkers actually can drive while they are asleep. But none of these are interesting other than the fact that the person has no idea that they’re doing them.”

He says that in theory he could use his expertise to tell someone how to behave and what to say to convince a court they were a genuine sleepwalker.

‘Get out of jail free card’

Some see it as “a get out of jail free card”, he says, but he adds that “people, in their sleep, can kill, they can rape, they can assault – sexually or physically”.

Barrister Ramya Nagesh, who has written a book on sleepwalking and other automatism defences tells Sky News that just because it is being used more “that doesn’t mean that it’s being used in bad faith because you do have to have expert opinion”.

She thinks there should be a change in the law to allow a verdict of not guilty by virtue of a medical condition to encompass cases involving sleepwalking, epileptic fits and hypoglycaemia.

“Automatism is an outright acquittal – it feels a bit odd to say we’ll excuse them, but they might go off and do it again,” she says.

“They don’t deserve to go to prison and wouldn’t benefit from a hospital order, so it would give judges a bit more power.”

Blundell's school, Tiverton, Devon
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Blundell’s school, Tiverton, Devon

The public schoolboy, now 17, who can’t be identified because of his age, has been found guilty of three counts of attempted murder after a jury deliberated for 40 hours and he will be sentenced in October.

His relatives told the jury there was a history of sleepwalking in the family and he said his mother had found him at the bottom of a staircase in their home around a decade ago.

A ‘textbook example’?

After the attacks, the teenager told a student he was watching horror movies, while others heard him say: “I am sorry, I was dreaming.”

At his trial, sleep forensic expert, Dr Mark Pressman, who has decades of experience in the field, has seen 20,000 patients and more than 100 cases of sleepwalking violence, was called as a witness.

He described the case in court as a “textbook example”, explaining sleepwalkers could be fearful for their lives and “respond with violence to protect themselves at a very primitive level”.

“The defendant swivelled around and attacked his housemaster without knowing who he was,” he said. He was not aware he had attacked the housemaster.”

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But another expert witness, Dr John O’Reilly, told the court he did not believe the boy was asleep as a sleepwalker does not initiate violence because it is triggered by noise or touch.

Prosecutors said he had been awake shortly before the attacks, with an examination of his iPad showing he had been listening to music on Spotify, and that he had a fascination with serial killers.

‘Lucky to still be alive’

In his room, he kept a locked stash of what other pupils described as “weapons”, including shards of broken glass, screwdrivers and multiple hammers.

Police discovered he had carried out internet searches for “rampage killers”, “school massacres”, “murder with a hammer” and “killer kills while sleeping”.

He had sent alarming messages to one of his victims in the months before the attack – including a character from the horror film Texas Chainsaw Massacre wielding a hammer.

“These violent actions were repeated again and again,” said prosecutor James Dawes KC, and there was “no other explanation for his actions other than his intention to kill them”.

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Following his conviction, senior crown prosecutor Helen Phillips said the two boys were “lucky to still be alive”.

“The boy, who had a macabre interest in murder, serial killers, and violence, showed no remorse and naïvely thought that by concocting a story about sleepwalking at the time of the attack he could evade punishment,” she added.

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