D-DAY 80

When it comes to broadcasting events of significant historic importance nobody does it better than the BBC. The programming for the D-Day 80 commemorative events in Portsmouth, Bayeux and Ver-sur-Mer were no exception. Showforce was honoured to supply over 300 crew to work alongside the production team and its supply chain to ensure the successful delivery of two outdoor events in Portsmouth.

The event held on the morning of Wednesday 5th June was attended by 5,000 people and broadcast live on BBC One. Hosted by Dame Helen Mirren the specially curated programme captured the spirit of the pivotal moment in history featuring powerful spoken word testimony, live music and performances. TM the King and Queen and HRH the Prince of Wales along with the then Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other foreign leaders and dignitaries were in attendance to pay tribute to all those involved in D-Day.

Challenges included the installation of a huge 80 metre wide x 12.5 metre wide LED screen which forward the backdrop for the performances. Supplied by Creative Technology there were 1400+ panels to install with many of them at height. The good old British weather also through a few curve balls given the site’s location on the sea front and high wind speeds definitely had to be factored in at certain points.

Crew Numberscrew on-site at peak periodsType of CrewKey SkillsLocation
International Crew Manager, crew chiefs, production crew, site crew, stage crew, plant operators and showcall crew
Production build, stage build, technical, site duties, changeovers for the stage and Royal box
Portsmouth, UK

As you would expect on a project of this size, the crew were assigned to specific departments and worked alongside the lighting, video, LED screen, scenic, rigging and backline teams to ensure that the stage was set. Many of the suppliers were involved in the delivery of the Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle the year before so our crew had a good rapport with the teams onsite and were able to seamlessly slot in wherever they were needed.

On the day we had a team of six stage crew who were tasked with ensuring that the Orchestra’s chairs and backline were in position for their performances and removed when not required. Additional crew ensured that props were prepped and moved in and out position as required. We also had a team who looked after the Royal Box which had to be re-set once the concert was over in preparation for veterans to meet King Charles III.

The team at Lite-Up who were delivering all the lighting for the event were so impressed by two crew members, Ashleigh Staines and Rosie Collins, they were appointed honorary lampies for the week. We also received some fantastic feedback from Steven Haynes, managing director of Production Labs Ltd. who was working with the team at Lite-Up, who said:

“Overall, your team had a great quality of service, especially considering the high number of people you had on site…I feel I can speak on behalf of the entire team when I say that they were some of the best crew we’ve ever seen! They were highly knowledgeable, incredibly skilled and very hard working. They always got stuck in and consistently checked in with us if there was anything else they could be doing, plus they had great initiative. I’ll certainly be in touch if I have any requirements from Showforce in the future and please do pass on my commendations to those involved!”

Wednesday evening saw a spectacular drone show produced by Sky Magic lighting up the skies above Portsmouth. Our crew also worked alongside their team assisting with rehearsals and show set up for the drones, helping to mark out and position the drones.


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Becky Meers
Head of Operations