Times of Malta, Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Filming of Warburton documentary under way

George Cini

Wing Commander Adrian Warburton (Ben Stuart) and Christina Radcliffe (Irene Christ) during the filming of the BBC documentary at the Aviation Museum, in Ta' Qali.

A romantic scene at ir-Razzett l-Antik, in Qormi recreating the first encounter between wartime RAF pilot Adrian Warburton and his lover Christina Radcliffe was shot yesterday by the BBC production team, which is in Malta preparing a documentary on the exploits of the second world war hero.

The documentary will be screened in September in the Timewatch series on BBC 2.

Warby, as he was known, made his mark as a maverick pilot whose no holds barred attitude during reconnaissance flights turned him into a legend.

His excellent pictures paved the way for the successful Fleet Air Arm attack on the Italian fleet in Taranto in 1941 and, two years later, Warby's pictures were invaluable for the allied invasion of Italy. He was lost in a mission over Germany.

On Monday footage was filmed at the Aviation Museum, in Ta' Qali showing Warby- played by Ben Stuart who lives in Malta - preparing to take off on one of his flights. The BBC team were assisted in the re-enactment by Ray Polidano, director general of the Aviation Museum, and by Frederick Galea of the War Museum in Valletta.

The part of Christina is played by Irene Christ who also resides in Malta.

Lisa Charles, associate producer BBC History, said when contacted: "The romantic scenes are based on Christina's memoirs which she had published in a series of articles in the now defunct UK newspaper, The Star.

"It was a bit of a lucky streak really to find Ben and Irene in Malta and we came to know about them after we contacted Irene's theatre company Acting House Productions".

Last Wednesday, the production team filmed the burial of the remains of the RAF hero - Warburton disappeared during a mission over Germany when he was flying a US Lockheed F-5B photo reconnaissance fighter - at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, in Durnbach, Germany.

Other parts of the documentary will include a street scene in Qrendi showing Warby and Christina. A nail-biting episode will be shot at the Lascaris War Rooms, in Valletta where Christina worked as a plotter. The scene shows her searching frantically over the radar screen as Warby is shown being chased by enemy planes when his plane suddenly disappears off the screen.

The filming is expected to be completed by tomorrow.

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