TV Highlights

Spy in the Sky

PBS America - 10pm

Who's in it?

This was the story of U-2. Not the band, thankfully, but the legendary spy plane that brought the world close to nuclear armageddon.

In a nutshell

It was in 1960 that a pilot named Gary Powers was shot down over the USSR. He was piloting a U-2: a plane specially designed to snoop on the Soviet enemy, without being in danger of attack. Well, the technology’s luck had clearly run out, as it was felled by the Russians and Powers became a prisoner of the Cold War, and brought Eisenhower and Khrushchev to loggerheads. And when you’re dealing with two people with fingers on the nuclear button, at loggerheads is not where you want them to be.

This wasn’t just the story of the Powers confrontation, but a fascinating chronicle of the U-2 itself. We learnt about the main designer, Kelly Johnson, and how this crucial project was painstakingly put together at a time when the threat of atomic extinction was very, very real. Amazingly, the U-2 planes carried on flying for decades afterwards, but they’ll always be linked with the name of Gary Powers.

What's the verdict?

Pure history porn for Cold War addicts, this blended archive footage and expert insights to tell a saga of high stakes spy work, secret tech, and a pilot who found himself plonked right in the middle of history.

Star rating: 4/5

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07-07-2011