Beccles author to appear in feature film on Second World War plane

Historian Ian McLachlan has landed a film role

Historian Ian McLachlan has landed a film role - Credit: Archant

A Beccles author is to switch from television to the big screen on a major Norfolk made film project.

That's All Brother

That's All Brother - Credit: Archant

Ian McLachlan will be the resident historian as part of a US feature length cinematic documentary.

The film will chronicle the discovery, history and restoration of D-Day C-47, That's All Brother.

The plane was the first to drop paratroopers before the main invasion but after the war was lost for 70 years, found in the USA and against all odds restored to flight.

It is being produced by local television production company Nik Coleman Television (NCTV) and a film trailer is to be featured in Cannes in April, with a targeted release of 2019.

That's All Brother restoration

That's All Brother restoration - Credit: Nik Coleman Television

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Mr McLachlan said: 'I originally took part in a couple of Time Team episodes a few years and that led me working with Nik Coleman for the Plane Resurrection series.

'There was talk of a film going ahead and now I am delighted to be an on screen piece to camera historian on the documentary.

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'There is such a rich history of aviation in this part of the world and I am proud that a local television production company and myself have the honour to be part of this project.'

Mr McLachlan has recently starred on the highly successful Plane Resurrection series, again with NCTV.

The series was initially filmed in the region and has been not only a hit here, but in the USA, Australia and New Zealand on Netflix, the History Channel and PBS, with the latter picking up huge television ratings for the show.

He said: 'I really enjoy doing this sort of work. I love putting the aircraft into historical context, and for this documentary I have been working with American historians, the allies as such for this work. I like providing a strong human element so it's not just the machine, but also about the person in the machine.'

NCTV won commission for That's All, Brother against some of the top documentary makers in the world including Hollywood based companies.

The company based in Forncett St Peter is set to expand its facility and create up to five new jobs and substantial freelance work.

Mr Coleman was working with the Commemorative Air Force on filming 'Plane Resurrection' when he came up with the idea of documenting the entire restoration of That's All, Brother.

He said: 'Working with the CAF has been fascinating; their collection of aircraft and the volunteers who work to restore them are inspirational and really give a sense of the dedication that goes into preserving these important artefacts.'

That's All, Brother was the lead aircraft of the massed formation that dropped more than 13,000 Allied paratroopers in occupied France.

Following the D-day mission, the aircraft continued military service through the War, after being released from the military it was sold for civilian use and changed hands several times. Its historical significance was unknown, even by those who owned the aircraft. Decades later, the airplane was sitting in an aircraft bone yard, slated to be scrapped for parts.

It was a chance discovery by a military historian researching D-day aircraft who recognised the identity of the airplane, and just in time.

Once the airplane's origin was confirmed, the Commemorative Air Force, the world's largest flying museum, acquired the aircraft and quickly set to work restoring it back to its original D-day configuration.

The documentary about the C-47 That's All, Brother will cover the aircraft's role in history and well as recognize the people connected to this aircraft from the Second World War to present day. The NCTV team, which began filming in 2016, will follow the recovery of this aircraft, its restoration to airworthy status, and finally its triumphant return to the shores of Normandy in 2019 to honour the 75th anniversary of D-day.

Excerpts of the film will be pre-screened at MiPTV in Cannes, between April 3 to 6.

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