THE makers of a TV programme about Bradford’s former Odeon are seeking anyone who recalls messages sent from servicemen, broadcast to loved ones in the cinema during the Second World War.

The ‘Calling Blighty‘ films showed recorded messages from Bradford servicemen and women stationed in India and the Far East, many of whom were away from their families for years.

Transparent Television, part of a Bafta-winning producer of factual programming, is researching a documentary about the Odeon, to be presented by Michael Portillo, and wants to hear from anyone who remembers the cinema during the war, when it was the New Victoria Cinema, and the ‘Calling Blighty’ films.

“Film crews were sent to India and filmed men and women giving a message to loved ones back home,” said a Transparent Television spokesman. “The precious rolls of film were then shipped back to England and families were invited to the Bradford Odeon, and other cinemas, to see them.

The Channel 5 documentary is part of a series about some of Britain’s most historic and unusual buildings, “taking audiences into the secret worlds of some of the country’s architectural treasures, and unearthing their forgotten stories”.

Researchers are using Telegraph & Argus archive material for the Odeon programme, described as “a celebratory story about the extraordinary legacy of the New Victoria”. Producers also want to hear from anyone who was at the venue when the Beatles played there in 1963 and ‘64.

Last September, plans were announced to re-open the derelict cinema as a major live music venue, with NEC Group International signing a 30-year lease as the preferred new operator. The £20 million scheme is hoped to be completed in 2020. In December, 600 people, picked from thousands who applied, went inside the Odeon for a screening of the Doctor Who special, Twice Upon A Time, ahead of its screening on Christmas Day.

* Anyone who attended a ‘Calling Blighty’ screening at the New Victoria Cinema in 1944 - 1946, or had a loved one who sent a message, is asked to email Ed Wright at or call 0207 704 3300, ext. 475