Castles in the Sky (2014) Movie Script

One, two, three.
Ah, that's equal!
One, two, three.
That's you! Ah, that's good.
What's this here?
Uncle Robert!
Making the invisible visible!
Lunch is ready.
Ah! Perfect!
Thank you, Auntie Margaret.
Ah. What's going on here?
Making invisible things appear.
And then disappear, like sandwiches.
No-one comes in,
even if the building's on fire.
This shows the Germans are working
night and day,
so if tensions should rise
and if conflict...
As I have been saying for some time,
it's not a question of if,
Mr Tizard, it's a question of when.
I don't think that necessarily...
We have to work night and day to
build up our reserves and weapons.
Even if we had enough money,
we'd still never catch up.
We have to overtake them.
We have to build a death ray.
A death ray?
A ground-based weapons system
that focuses radio waves
on enemy aircraft
and boils pilots to death in their
cockpits in a matter of seconds.
Is such a thing possible?
I think these things, you pick the
right people, then they build it,
we can make anything happen.
Let's see who's got some ideas, Sir.
I'll put out some feelers.
We'll have to disguise it somehow,
keep a lid on it.
No need to alarm anyone.
And I will continue to put pressure
on the director
to let me set up a new committee
for aerial-weapon development.
As we know, there is a limited pot
of money available.
If pacifists in the cabinet
continue to...
Sorry, Professor Lindemann,
I'm afraid that committee
already exists.
Excuse me? I'm sorry.
Who is chairing this committee?
I see.
I rather wished I'd done
the washing now.
I was told it was going to rain.
It does look like there's
change in the air.
How can you tell?
Studying the clouds,
watching how they're moving.
Barometric pressure.
Excuse me? Hello, Skip! Hi.
Sorry to disturb on your day off
an' all.
We've had a telegram.
You asked the impossible.
By using radio waves only,
could we raise the temperature
of eight pint glasses of water
to 105-degrees Fahrenheit?
You did it? Indeed.
We were forced to make slight
alterations to the test conditions.
Very slight alterations.
Such as?
To achieve the desired outcome,
we reduced the distance
originally proposed.
And neither did you use radio waves.
Forgive me for being
a little...reductive here,
but would it be fair to say
that in your experiment,
you essentially...boiled a kettle?
We failed in our objective,
but we stumbled across
something altogether different.
By transmitting high-energy waves,
we think it may be possible
to deafen laboratory rats.
Hello. Yes, right,
I know what you are up to.
You're worried about the Germans.
Eight pints of water
equals eight pints of blood.
The distance and height specified,
an aeroplane.
Ergo, you're wanting
some kind of weapon
that will vaporise pilots
in their cockpits, aren't you?
I-I haven't slept since I received
your telegram.
Barely stopped work. Goodness knows
what my wife must think.
I'm Robert Watson-Watt.
You told your wife about this?
Should I have?
Will you begin your presentation,
The thing you propose doesn't work.
It never will work.
No-one will ever get it to work.
Probably cause more damage
to the operator than the enemy.
So, you're here to...?
Offer you something that will.
Now, I have an idea
for a listening device...
Listening devices don't work.
We've already built sound mirrors.
This isn't a sound mirror.
As Baldwin said, the bomber
will always get through.
How exciting would it
prove him wrong?
It is night-time.
You're in the woods.
The enemy is out there somewhere,
but you don't know exactly where.
So you tie a length
of fishing line...
between two trees...
..and then you hang a bell off it.
Enemy comes along, touches the line,
which rings the bell
and we know where he is.
So we use fishing line and bells
to enable us to hear our enemies.
Jolly good(!)
Good. Thank you for your time, Mr...
But instead of trees...we
have antennae.
And if I may... Thank you very much.
So we have radio antennae.
Now, they send out pulses...
..which are like our fishing line.
Then, if something...comes along,
then the waves bounce off.
And that rings a bell here
and then we can see them.
Thank you.
He's an idiot. Perhaps.
But out of all the ideas
we've heard today...
His is the...least idiotic?
Well, we have to do something.
Get him to give you
a field demonstration.
I thought you said it was going
to be a clear day.
That's weather for you.
Indeed. We're going again!
It's not budging!
This... This is fine.
Come on, let's get the equipment.
We've got 40 minutes!
Who are you?
I'm his chief assistant.
So we're tuned in
on the 50-metre wavelength,
waiting for a six megahertz
transmission from Daventry
with at least 10 kilowatts of power.
This man appears to be living
in cloud cuckoo land.
You have absolutely no faith in him,
have you?
He's building a washing line... the rain.
That's going to terrify
the Luftwaffe(!)
We have two aerials -
one in front, one behind.
We have a BBC transmitter
sending out -
Where's the transmitter?
Over there, in Daventry.
That's sending out pulses, which get
reflected down off an aircraft.
These pulses are, in effect,
like our trap.
The fishing line in the woods.
So, now we wait for something
to hit it and...
..ring the bell, so to speak? Yes!
The receiver is tuned
to Daventry, isn't it?
What are you doing?! Well, if...
Just leave it, will you?! Come on!
It's there!
It's actually there!
We saw you!!
I need to get out of this field
and find a telephone.
We didn't see it till it
was right on top of us.
But we saw it. We saw a plane.
Unfortunately, we can't prove it.
The trace recorder failed. Oh, no!
Well, we'll just have to do
it all over again
and hope it records next time.
It did work, didn't it?
I mean, we didn't imagine that,
did we?
We'll have to build
our own transmitter.
This was just a test.
There are a million and one things
against us.
And we will overcome them all.
Despite your lack of appropriate
I've spoken with the Ministry
and we have recognised
the success of the test
and we would like to proceed
to the next stage of development.
In order to move forward,
we require you to sign
the Official Secrets Act.
Thank you.
I trust the idiot boy is still
in the dark about all this?
He's not an idiot.
He doesn't know what you're doing,
though, does he?
No. Good.
The fewer the better.
You only need to read that the
penalty for even the slightest
deviation from secrecy is...
'To be hanged by the neck
until life is extinct'.
Rather a nice pen.
Keep it...
I get no kick
from champagne
Mere alcohol doesn't
thrill me at all
So tell me
why should it be true?
Someone's cheery.
That I get a kick out of you.
Why, thank you.
I take it you had a good day?
Excellent day, Mag,
a thoroughly excellent day.
I just need to finish this.
I've been struggling with
this for quite some time.
Could you hold this
while I fasten the clip?
Can you hold this piece here?
Got it. OK.
You genius! Well, here's hoping.
So...tell me all about your
excellent day.
You've barely uttered
a word about your work lately.
I'm sorry, I can't.
It's a secret.
A secret?
You're a weatherman!
Not just a weatherman.
Oh, no, no, no.
You fix broach clips too.
And bicycle chains.
The list is endless.
So pray do tell, what's so secret?
Are we going to have a hot summer?
Should we panic-buy
sun hats and the like?
I'm working for the Air Ministry.
No, I am.
No, I'm not joking, stop.
There's a threat.
I've been asked to help.
The Government have asked YOU?
You're serious? Quite serious.
What exactly is this threat?
I'm not allowed to say.
Sorry, Mag.
I'm sorry.
Morning, Professor.
You seem...jolly?
Perhaps I too should
whistle a happy tune?
After all,
we have nothing to worry about,
aside from Hitler announcing
secretly practising war manoeuvres
and building aeroplanes.
Or perhaps the lightness of your mood
is related to some success
by your little committee?
We're making progress.
With the death ray?
The system we're developing may
help us build a defence that...
Hitler will crush.
Yes, you're right.
You're absolutely right.
Good day, Professor.
Certainly not, Professor.
Ooh, well, in that case,
it's a direct order.
Tell me who Tizard's committee
have met. That's classified.
I'm sorry.
I apologise for my manner.
We're all working in very
difficult circumstances.
I feel... May I trouble
you for a glass of water?
Won't be a moment.
I'm afraid our hands are tied.
How so?
The secret nature of the project
does prevent us
from taking out an advertisement
in the Times.
Well, you better tell Mr Tizard
that we're going to need more time.
There's only two of us here.
Close the door.
You detected a plane a few
hundred yards away in a field -
that won't protect Britain.
We need to think bigger.
I'm going to make some calls
to Oxford and Cambridge,
see who we can drum up.
No, I'd like to use men
from the weather lab.
My dear man,
if we want this to work,
we require the very best physicists
and mathematicians and we find those
gentlemen not at the weather lab
but at our oldest universities.
You don't think
weathermen are good enough
because they don't wear
the right tie and all that?
Some of your lot don't wear
ties at all, do they?
Look, your little weathermen
friends are all well and good,
and I'm sure they're perfectly
harmless, but they simply
do not have the expertise with
this particular technology.
Our best professors do.
They'll also do what they're told.
Cavendish. Shall we?
Yes, er, Cambridge 2443, please.
Cavendish Laboratory,
Cambridge University.
They'll do what they're told?
Is that Sir James Thomson?
Yes, sorry to bother you, sir.
I'm calling from the Post Office.
Just a wee check on the line.
Do you happen to have a container
of water near your telephone?
A sink perhaps or maybe a bucket?
A fish-tank!
Yes, that will suffice. Could you
please pop your telephone into it?
Yes, into the fish tank.
It's the only way we can fully
ensure that your equipment
is compatible with the new system.
That's excellent, sir.
But most folk call me Taffy.
I don't know why,
Swansea's miles away
from the River Taff.
I was born in Cockett, you see.
Perhaps as well they call me
Taffy, eh?
I graduated from Swansea University,
First Class Honours,
Msc the year after that
and completed my doctorate
at King's College,
and I've been at the station
in Slough ever since.
So you're an untried PhD student?
Can I ask you, will I be working
for you or for him?
Oh, him.
In that case, thanks for the tie,
Rob, and, er, I will take the post.
Thanks. Welcome to the team.
Are you sure these men are the right
ones for the job? I'm positive.
We need free-thinkers,
rule-breakers, men without ties.
These men will strive
to make this thing work
Higgy, very pleased
you're going to join us.
Sorry, I knocked but...
It's all right, come on in.
I'll pop back later
if you still want me?
Mr Tizard is on his way over.
Since you won't listen to me,
perhaps you could discuss
your team with him?
Sorry, sir. Sorry.
I don't want to be fobbed off
with a bunch of Oxford academics
I've never even met.
These are all people I've worked
with before. I trust them.
It's your team. I'm very happy
for you to choose who you want.
Thank you.
Our intelligence says
that Hitler has built 3,000 planes.
Passenger planes?
By the time the world wakes
up to the noise that's building
in Germany it will be too late.
Your theories, experiments, tests,
are all well and good, Robert,
but you need to understand
that very soon German planes
may well be dropping bombs
onto our homes.
There are others at the Ministry
who want to channel all our efforts
into striking Germany hard and fast.
There's opposition
to what we're doing?
I've managed to get you
a little funding,
a base to test and experiment,
and I'm backing you
every step of the way,
but we don't yet know
if this thing will work.
It will.
It has to, Robert.
It HAS to.
Are you all right, Uncle Robert?
What? Er, yes, sorry.
I just fell asleep with my eyes open.
It's time I took you home.
I'll get my stuff.
You look tired.
I've got to go away for a while.
The secret thing?
You'll be away from home.
For how long? I don't know.
As long as it takes for me to
mess it up and get fired, I expect.
I'm sure that won't happen.
I'm not.
Is there anything I can do to help?
I don't think so.
You could visit.
Not at work, of course, but we could
sneak away to a wee hotel?
We can be together
every other weekend or so?
I'm your wife.
This is our home.
You finish work at the same time,
every day, you come home,
we have dinner, we listen to
the wireless, we go to bed.
That's what we do.
That's who we are.
You are not a secret
Government employee
and I am not some girl
who visits hotels.
We'll be together here
when you've finish your work.
You're in my office.
Tell me what Tizard
and this weatherman are up to?
Tell me.
They're researching a project.
That much I know.
These are my private papers!
What exactly is the project?
Rowe! What is the project?
It's weather related hocus-pocus,
all very dull.
Are your loyalties with me
or with Henry Tizard?
Are we not all
on the same side, Professor?
Beside the sea
Oh, I do like to walk along
the prom prom prom
Where the brass band plays
Oh, I do like to be
beside the seaside
I'll be beside myself with glee
And there's lots of girls beside
that I'd like to be beside
Beside the seaside,
beside the sea.
This can't be it.
I've stayed in worse.
I've lived in worse.
No, this CAN'T be it.
Right, lads, are we all ready?
Oh, come on! Gently.
We've got to get the pulses strong
enough to detect further away.
We need more power.
We need our pulses to go further.
Pass us that, will you?
Equalise the power.
Keep your fingers crossed.
We're picking something up.
So our new transmitter is working?
I wouldn't call it new.
Our "cobbled together with
bits of string" transmitter.
But it works? Barely.
We are detecting a plane out there,
right? Estimated a mile away.
A mile away, Mr Rowe! I assume
you know this is not good enough?
Yes, it works, well done.
Now let's pretend that you've
located an enemy bomber.
One. Two.
Let's also pretend it's
headed in our direction.
A modern bomber
flying at 200 miles an hour
covers the distance of a mile
in what...20 seconds?
You really think that's enough time
to pass on the information
and get our pilots airborne?
19. 20.
I caught the train.
Thought I'd surprise you.
How nice.
I struggled to find a little music
on the wireless
with all the talk of Germany.
It's a nice little place, isn't it?
The hotel.
Yes, it is.
Can you help me with this?
Your nephew's called round almost
every day hoping you'd be back.
He's really missing you...
as am I.
It's why I had to come here
to see you.
Be with you.
That's got it.
I'll just pop this away
and then we can spend
some time together.
Yes, erm...
After I've done this.
Look, why don't you go downstairs
and order a spot of dinner?
What about you?
You can order for me.
You know what I like.
And, er, I'll be with you
the moment I've finished.
And then? Yes.
They're sending some
supper up for you.
Oh, sorry.
So am I.
This is the future. It's soup warmed
with a high-power transmitter.
Can I have your attention, please?
Sorry, sir.
Now, we've shown
we can detect a plane
when it is flying right overhead,
but we need to go much further.
How do we do this?
It's obvious we have to go
back to the drawing board.
This is the drawing board.
The first obstacle will be...
We need more power
to transmit our pulses.
And more power allows us
to reach a higher frequency.
Higher frequency improves accuracy.
To increase frequency
and get the range we need,
we need to increase power.
It's like inventing chicken
and egg at the same time.
But we solve one and the other
will fall into place,
so concentrate on cracking power.
We need better valves.
We haven't got better valves.
The ones we got aren't up to it.
They keep blowing.
You don't have to put your hand up,
Higgy. Sorry.
The equipment, if you don't mind me
saying, sir,
it's stuff left
over from the Stone Age.
I think we're going to struggle,
that's all.
We should have been in the navy.
They're awash with cash, that lot.
Boatloads of equipment
they never use.
Well, I'm sorry we haven't got
the funding we need,
but if we show that this can work
then that will change.
But we can't show it will work
without the better equipment.
Chicken and egg.
We have to be canny and clever.
It's up to us to prove that
this can work. No-one else can.
I have faith in you and if we work
together as a team
we will do this.
Crack power and let's make
the invisible visible.
I've got a bad feeling about this.
Couldn't you just ask them
for the equipment? Oh, yes.
'Excuse me, we hear you have some
much larger valves in your stores
'than we've got.
Please can we have some?'
We'd have requests in triplicate,
have them signed, countersigned.
We'd be dead by the time they
approved it. IF they approved it.
Why have I got to do
all the talking?
Nobody would believe a Welshy.
Or a Yorkie.
Yorkshire men are reliable,
unlike the Welsh. Ridiculous.
We pronounce it ridiculous.
I'm going to belt you after this.
Evening. Pass.
The Ministry have contacted you
four times in the last week
without acknowledgement.
We don't need a pass. No, what we
need... No entry without a pass.
We're here under direct orders
from the Ministry
to find the listening equipment
planted by the German agents.
Stand in our way and I'll have you
arrested for treason. Understood?
Thank you.
What's the paperwork?
Just some old radio transmitter
technical plans. Oh.
This stuff is amazing!
We're not out of the woods yet.
Er, this paperwork...
Ah, yes. Thank you.
Ssssh! Don't!
Just don't.
I think so.
Fingers crossed.
It's working! What is?
Better valves, more power.
New valves. New valves?
New valves that arrived
this morning. From where?
From the navy.
The navy sent us these?
They didn't really send them. No.
We had to pick them up.
We're building up
to 350 kilowatts of peak power!
I wouldn't celebrate just yet.
Even with more efficient valves,
we're still not getting
enough power output...
Have you not got it yet?
You've not realised
what's at stake here?
Tizard and the committee are coming
at the end of the week
and we have to show progress.
Hey, we're flogging our guts out
here... Looks like it.
..all day, everyday on something
that'll probably never work anyway!
Well, if that's what you think
you may as well go.
I mean it, go. Go on!
That applies to all of you.
Robert Watson-Watt!
You're happy to talk, aren't you,
but not as happy to listen?
That bunch of men back there
are working till they drop.
Do...? No!
You don't get to speak here.
You've done enough talking.
You listen!
You said we're working together
and we are. You're not. We are.
We're not YOUR team.
You're part of it and it's high time
you rolled up your sleeves
and mucked in instead of...
You think I'm not working?
You think I am not rolling up my
sleeves and getting to work? I am!
From upstairs maybe, behind closed
doors, away from the shop floor!
I'm dealing with everything else -
the Ministry, Tizard, Rowe -
all this strife.
They're trying to get me to magic
a giant rabbit out of a tiny wee hat!
They are going to come down here,
the Ministry,
ask what's going on,
what progress we're making?
I'm going mad with it and I can't
tell Margaret or anyone because
I am supposed to be in charge
of the unit and know what I'm doing!
Talk to me. Talk to me, Rob.
We are all in the same boat.
You can't do this on your own.
You're part of a team, OUR team.
I'd apologise to you... everybody.
And...I'm sorry.
What's that game called?
Yes! Catch it!
Jesus, he couldn't catch a cold,
that one!
Here you are, Rob.
Feed me now and ever more.
You trying to take my head off?
If I wanted to I would have done.
Oh, yeah? Yeah.
No, no. Come on, Taffy.
Come on, Taffy,
back to the valleys!
Come on.
I'm going to bloody kill you!
I am going to bloody kill you!
Lads! Lads!
Taff, calm down.
Where you going to go, Bell?
Where you going to go?
Maybe we should start a sweep?
Come on.
Pace yourself, Taff.
You all right there, Taff?
What's he doing?
Bell! Bell!
Bell! Come on. Bell!
Our transmitters are 5,000 volts,
yeah? Aye.
It produces 350 kilowatts
of peak power? Aye.
I've never understood cricket.
We can't exceed that...
It blows the valves.
..cos it's constantly running,
it's constantly in use,
but if we do quick bursts,
like sprinting...
Recover. Sprint. Recover.
The valves have time
to recover, don't they?
Aye. Yes!
Oh, let's get to it!
The PM will
never spend enough to catch up.
We have to invest all our resources
in building a death-ray
and take the fight to them.
That's not going to happen while
Tizard's radio-locator
is being considered.
We may be able to push
for our own defence committee.
Above Tizard? Naturally.
Will Baldwin listen to you?
He will.
He certainly will when you tell him
what Tizard's merry band
of weathermen are actually doing.
I have a man on the inside, Winston,
one of the weatherman's team.
A saboteur?
No, he simply reports back
what developments they've made.
Precious few, Winston.
I'll call Baldwin...
..and you keep talking to your mole.
Ah, Bell's secret recipe.
I call it Problem Solver.
It sparks the mind, you see.
It is strong that. It's got to be
strong to keep the chill off.
Well, if you just wear normal
clothes, like me.
Take it off him.
No more for you.
Mr Rowe?
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
life is but a dream.
Mr Rowe, what are you doing here?
I've been sent to ensure that
everything will be in place
for the demonstration.
What, may I ask,
are you celebrating? Life!
Progress, Mr Rowe, progress!
So you've built the thing? It works?
Not exactly.
But we're well on the way.
Oh, yes. Any minute now.
And power. We've solved the power.
Although we've still got
the range to deal with.
So there's no improvement in how
far you can send your pulses?
There's quite a large team heading
up from Whitehall
who need convincing of the
worthiness of the radio locator.
If they don't have proof it works
they will pull the plug.
I think we should call it a night.
I agree. Gentlemen, good night.
Taff. Come on, big boy.
You can not let this Whitehall...
Here you go. I don't want it.
You cannot allow the Whitehall lot
to see this backstage nonsense,
the strings, the smoke and mirrors.
They need to be dazzled with magic.
MUSIC: "Sing, Sing, Sing"
by Benny Goodman
Robert, it's me.
Oh, are you in the middle of
Er, yes, erm...
Is everything all right?
Yes, sorry I won't keep you.
I just wanted to talk to you about
the weekend. The weekend?
You are still planning
on coming home, aren't you?
Oh, I'm sorry, Mag, I can't.
Well...would you like me
to come to the hotel?
Look, I'm really tied up with work.
'I don't think it's, erm... I've got
some important people coming down'
to see a demonstration
of something I cannot do.
'What should I do, Mags?'
Look to the sky.
Isn't that what you always do,
when you're struggling?
Look to the sky, Robert.
I'd better go.
I love you.
The ionosphere? It's a layer
of the Earth's atmosphere,
a band of charged electrons and...
I know what it is.
I named it, you know.
Yes, yes, what about it?
We're going to use it.
OK, imagine... Excuse me.
..that this is
the ionosphere, right...
And if you can you hold that.
..and my head is the Earth.
So instead of sending pulses
from the Earth that go up
and across the Earth, we're sending
pulses up from the Earth
and bouncing them off the ionosphere
back to Earth.
Ionosphere, Earth, ionosphere.
Bouncing makes our pulses
go further,
like skimming stones across water,
a water with a ceiling.
A swimming pool.
A swimming pool with a low ceiling or
throwing a bottle across wet grass
or a ping-pong ball.
Anyway, that, in a nutshell,
is what we're planning to do today.
Send a pulse up to the ionosphere?
We did it yesterday.
We bounced it off the ionosphere
60 miles.
60 miles! Can you imagine that?
And your pulse hit something?
You detected aircraft?
Not exactly, no. Exactly?
At all. Right.
But there may not have been anything
in the air at that particular
frequency at a particular time.
Don't worry, I've arranged
for an aeroplane to be flying
through our net today,
so fingers crossed this works.
Fingers crossed?
Er, gentlemen.
Apologies for the condition
of this hut.
We have built a new transmitter,
which has given us increased
power and efficiency,
and also increases our potential
of detecting aircraft
at greater distances.
We've also used our extensive
knowledge of weather systems
to send a radio pulse further than
science could ever have imagined,
all this on a shoestring budget.
(Where's the plane?)
(I don't know.)
Any of your Oxbridge chums know
anything about weather systems?
God no!
They do know how to
mix a decent martini.
This bunch of barbarians think
a martini is a Greek island.
Funding, always a tricky thing.
I understand the pressures
but it's chicken...chicken and egg.
Chicken and egg. If we want more
eggs, we need more chickens...
..which is funding.
It's better not talking
about the chickens and the eggs.
So this is quite a thing. Erm...
(Just do something.)
(You do something!)
Erm, so...
Ah, ah, can you see this?
If I could just listen there.
Thank you, Higgy.
That is a bounce.
Yes, that... That is a bounce.
Thank you. That's a bounce.
We are detecting a bounce
of our pulse.
That is bouncing of the ionosphere
and back across the Earth!
How many miles away is that?
Err... 60 miles.
60 miles! 60 miles!
If that was an enemy aircraft,
that would give us
about a 20-minute warning.
So, there, as you can see...
Help me out.
This is astonishing!
Please, come.
Do, yes. Absolutely...
Higgy, punch it up on the
oscilloscope, will you?
Come for a closer look.
Punch it up?
It's not the most attractive
of set ups,
but there's a lot of substance,
a lot of sophistication...
Thank you.
They all seemed suitably impressed
with your theatrics.
So we'll get the money?
Getting money for this project
was hard enough
when MacDonald was Prime Minister.
And now Baldwin's PM?
What's going on, Henry?
I mean, something's going on
otherwise we wouldn't be having
this conversation.
Churchill's clawing his way
in from the back benches.
He's persuaded the PM to let him
chair a new research group
and has installed his main advisor,
Professor Lindemann,
on a sub-committee, above us.
Lindemann wants to direct
our funding to build
a strike force to hit Germany.
It's early days for Churchill and
Lindemann but they'll be waiting.
The slightest of hiccups, they'll
seize on it and shut us down.
The Air Ministry were impressed.
It would appear that Watson-Watt
has a cunning streak of his own.
Yes, thank you.
Keep me informed of any further
developments. Sir.
But yesterday wasn't a success.
We proved we can bounce a signal
over long distances,
but we failed to detect
an aeroplane flying right over
our heads, and why?
Calculation error?
Not a chance.
Range and target?
We've got something now. What?
Why couldn't we see this yesterday?
The equipment's not good enough.
It's the same as it was yesterday.
But now it's working.
Thank you.
Thank you very much.
The Air Station have confirmed
our blip is one of their aircraft.
We have a moving target
and it was 17 miles away!
We could tell where it's going
and how fast.
We've got to celebrate!
Before we get too carried away
with our success,
we have to get this working
all the time, every time,
whenever the Germans fly their
planes through our pulses.
That's the problem,
right there, isn't it?
Our pulse works in a range
of 17 miles,
but we've got thousands of miles
of coastline, not just 17.
One station can't protect
the entire country.
Are you all right?
You look awful.
We're ready for you.
The Nazis have passed a law for
'the protection of German blood.'
It is the act of a megalomaniac...
..a man who will wage war
and systematically destroy everyone
and everything in his path.
They are churning out planes day
and night whilst you lot...
..are sat with your thumbs
up your arses
building a castle in the bloody sky!
That may or may not work.
And now, you tell us
that one castle is not enough.
I've been entrusted with
overseeing your operation.
It is my neck on the block here.
You've had the money to develop
this thing and now,
you would like a lot more money
to build a lot more things
that may or may not work.
You wouldn't try to protect
an entire country
with just one castle, would you?
One castle.
Our enemies, they would side-step
it, go around it.
So what I am proposing, if I may...
..are a series of castles,
20 miles apart, stretched out
along the coastline.
Now each...
Each castle sends out a fishing
which individually is not that
but together is like casting a net,
all working together as a group
to identify enemy aircraft,
pin-pointing where they are
and where they're heading.
This gives us time...
time to prepare our men, deploy
our planes and build our defence.
I suggest we abandon this project
and channel our resources
into attack.
We must build more bombers.
We'll never match the Luftwaffe
in terms of numbers.
I think we're all agreed
our resources are limited.
So limited in fact that some
of your men took it upon themselves
to steal equipment
from a naval base.
Or were they following your orders?
I know nothing about that.
Of course not.
I believe that we should
use our limited funds on defence.
Attack is our best form of defence.
But people will die.
That's what happens in war!
People die!
You can't reasonably think to wage
a war when no-one dies, Henry.
Given...recent history...
and what each and every one of us
here in this room have witnessed...
..what would be so wrong
in trying?
We are already building
as many more new planes
as the government will stomach.
We can try to build
a few more still...
..or we build this.
If this thing works, the planes
we do have will become
much more effective.
It will give us a huge advantage
over the Germans,
a crucial advantage.
But what if it doesn't?
For the time being,
we will invest our money,
our faith and our prayers... your castles in the sky.
go and see if you can get
the bloody thing to work.
Lindemann knew
about the navy equipment.
How?! I don't know.
Careful with that, lads.
Well, this is a step up.
Gentlemen, welcome to Bawdsey Manor!
We're starting again?
We have a whole new set
of challenges.
We need to develop five stations,
a chain of stations stretching from
here all the way down to Sussex,
covering the approach to London.
Five stations? To begin with.
But we haven't got one working
You know that one is not enough.
But it won't work,
not unless all of the stations
are in synch,
communicating with each other,
sending out the same pulses. OK.
No. We're not ready for all that!
We've got to be.
People are depending upon us,
not just Ministry people,
our people.
I mean, our loved ones.
Hitler is creating a force that will
vastly outnumber ours.
And if Britain is ever attacked
our system,
may be the only chance of levelling
the playing field.
This is real. I mean, this is very
real. We few in this room may
be the only people in the country
who could do something about this.
You've got to put scale up there.
And range. You think you've solved
range but you haven't.
And what happens if the aircraft
flies perpendicular to our pulses?
What if there is a formation
of small planes?
How do we identify the target
if we have spiky noise returns on
the display?
The first round is on me
but that's your lot.
I wasn't going to ask you that.
Just after you left, your wife
She said to wish you a happy
anniversary. such a way as to
threaten Polish independence.
Come on...
That would inevitably start
a general conflagration.
In which this country would be
He's going... He's going well.
You know what you have to do! Come
on, Taff, here we go, come on.
Come on.
Fellas...keep it down!
The distribution of gas masks
began tonight in all areas.
Where's Rob?
He's in the doghouse.
His wife called, he missed their
anniversary. Oh...!
Did you make it up to Margaret?
I don't know where she is.
I should be there, at home,
not here.
This is a waste of time.
Not for them it's not.
Their first night out in weeks,
a couple of pints...
Not this here tonight, all of it.
Rowe was right - they should have
professors tasking all this,
not us. I should be at home with
Margaret and eating dinner,
listening to the wireless and
going to bed...
Waiting for the bombs to drop?
But we can't do this and people will
die. People will die because of us
and our bloody-minded pride, and
our ineptitude and our stupidity!
This will not work!
Don't say this won't work!
Don't push me!
You are not allowed to give up!
We are - you're not!
Something will shift,
something will happen
and we'll get our answers.
Don't you ever give up.
We just don't have time.
It's like trying to catch a shoal of
fish with one line.
We need a net, a big net,
multiple stations,
and that way we will solve range.
That will solve range.
We need to cover every
inch of coastline.
Am I building two, for now?
Then five.
If we can make two work...
Five will be easy?
You are bloody annoying, you know?
Margaret always says that.
Something shifts. Something happens.
So, we're almost there...
They've come to see five stations
working together.
And we only have two.
They don't know that. Exactly.
You think this will work?
I hope so, sir.
All five stations?
There are five? Correct?
We will show you how two stations
communicating together can
detect planes at greater distances.
The planes for today's demonstration
are already in the air.
Due to the obvious time
constraints, gentlemen,
we have decided to go for quality
rather than quantity.
All our energies are being
thrown into showing
and demonstrating the capabilities
of this particular station
linked to a second station
just along the coast.
So I think the time is just about
Our two stations are now sending out
pulses across the coast, like so...
..and waiting for an echo back...
..from something out there.
Something out there.
A formation of aircraft are right
now just turning towards us
and heading back in our direction.
They will be called the
Invading Force -
bombers, gentlemen,
which we shall detect,
heading our way, ready to drop their
deadly cargo upon our heads.
Just waiting here...
The invasionary force should be
due any minute...
Red leader, we are in position.
We've got them.
We've already heard them,
with our ears.
The Invading Force
have dropped their deadly cargo.
We are all dead.
As you can see, gentlemen, we're
having a slight technical
issue with our first demonstration.
So, if you'd like to avail yourself
of the light refreshments we've laid
on and we'll commence
with the second demonstration in 45
Thank you.
Second demonstration?
I couldn't leave you hanging there, I
had to say something.
We're going to fail twice.
I've got a plan.
I've had concerns for some
time about this radio locator.
Yes, of course,
of course there are benefits
if it is proven to work,
but as we've just seen...
We didn't have time to
test our beautiful new receiver.
I don't think it works.
What are we doing?
Old faithful!
Shouldn't take long.
Will it work?
Honest answer...?
How is that Lindemann up to speed
on everything we do?
He asked about the five stations,
the moment he arrived.
Lindemann has been up to speed
on every problem we have ever had.
And why is it that the first
person to point out
the flaws in whatever we are
doing...always Higgy?
It's like he's looking for problems.
Do us a favour will you, lad?
Go fetch a roll of cable,
might as well wire up the
new one just in case.
Covering all bases?
We know.
You've been spying on us.
II don't know what you're
talking about.
It's treason.
They will hang you!
Lindemann said nothing would happen!
He said I had to do it,
that the safety of the nation
depended on it!
You compromised
the safety of the nation!
Sh, Rob. They're only in there.
I trusted you!
I want this to work as much as you.
No, you don't!
You go on about the problems,
how it's not going to work...
And if I hadn't we may not have found
the faults with it until it was too
I want to help you build it, Rob!
You report everything back
to Lindemann.
You promised the impossible.
Did you really think they'd just
leave you to get on with it?
What is going on?
We can all hear a row.
Did you put a spy in my camp?!
Excuse me?
Is this just Lindemann or are
you in on it too?!
I have no idea what you're
talking about.
How much longer do you expect
the Air Chief Marshall to wait?
I'm sorry, sir. We'll be with you in
just a moment.
Two minutes.
Let us make this thing work!
Not you!
Your time is over!
I am in favour of anything that
helps us win this war -
your failure helps no-one.
If you'll excuse us, gentlemen, it's
time we were heading back to London.
We've got a trace.
Basic on the visual display.
What range?
How far away are the aircraft?
63 miles.
It's working?
It's working.
We can see them 63 miles away.
Our sister base have confirmed
the sighting,
five aircraft, 63 miles out
heading in our direction.
That gives us 21 minutes to
scramble aircraft and intercept!
we have a castle in the sky.
Air Chief Marshall...
You must be very pleased?
I am indeed. Overwhelmed...indeed.
Thank you, Swingate, track 165.
Five aircraft heading north.
Track 165. Range 58 miles
and closing.
We are rather pleased
your radio locator is working.
Despite your efforts gathering
information against us?
Your mole...Higgy.
We don't need him any more.
Neither do I.
He's quite dispensable.
Our radio locator is imperfect,
as you know...
It's range is limited and
and the system's not yet
proven at low altitude.
We're working on that.
Germany is building new
aeroplanes - smaller,
lighter aircraft that can fly
lower -
they might just get
under your net.
You have to
prepare for such eventualities.
If you don't feel quite up to
it we can call in the right people.
There's no shame in handing
it over...
for the good of the country.
You have done your bit, Robert.
Have a think.
We have to develop equipment
that could detect aircraft
at lower altitudes,
equipment that's smaller,
small enough to be mobile.
You've seen what we're working with -
it's the size of a kitchen.
We have to shrink it,
there's no other way.
We can't shrink it. Just look at the
size of the valves we're using.
We'll have to build smaller valves.
I don't know yet.
MUSIC: "Close Your Eyes"
by Al Bowlly
Close your eyes...
Close your eyes...
Is everything all right?
Everything's fine, yes.
I'm calling because I'm alone,
listening to the wireless,
'and Al Bowlly just came on'
and the you-not-being-here-ness
just hit me like a wave.
I'm listening to it.
You can hear it too?
'Yes, my darling.'
Dance with me.
Dance with you?
'It'll feel like
we're together again.'
Come on.
'Close your eyes...'
and imagine.
'You're a magician, aren't you?
'Make the invisible visible?'
'I remember dancing with you
like this once - our wedding.
'All of them around us in a circle.
'All of them there yet none of them
there, just you and me.'
'I need you to hold me, Robert.
'I need you with me.'
Come home.
'When all of this is over,
when all your work is done,'
come home, Robert.
'I promise, Mags.'
'The BBC will soon be
broadcasting the world's first
'high-definition television service,
'their dual-system service.
'EMI's new high-frequency
405-line television system
'and Baird's new 240-lined standard
will be transmitting directly
'from London's Alexandra Palace to
your businesses and your customers.'
Oxford 143, please.
I need your help.'
What's this about?
I don't know.
Now, last night...
I was thinking of walking away,
handing the whole project over to
Lindemann and just going home.
And then I heard on the wireless
an advertisement
for these very expensive,
but wondrous televisions.
..they have engineered,
for television, very small valves.
Smaller valves
means smaller equipment,
and they've also been designed
for a higher frequency
on a shorter wavelength,
which means we'll be able to stop
planes flying underneath our net.
Take a look.
Don't drop it.
That's 100MHz.
We are now transmitting
at a frequency of 200MHz.
Yes, yes, yes! Yes!
20 stations?
To begin with.
We'd best get started then.
I want to go home.
Not yet, Rob.
Not yet.
I have to tell you now
that no such undertaking
has been received.
And that consequently,
this country is at war with Germany.
I'm home!
Robert WW has arrived and
this is a restricted area.
It's our show now.
Get rid of him, please.
You're still here?
Your work here is finished now,
You're free to go.
Yes, thank you. I just need
to see if the system works.
My pen, isn't it?
Now, if you wouldn't mind.
No, I do have to see
if the system actually works.
And I need you to leave.
German bomber group, 85 miles out,
Track 167 WN8554.
Go ahead, Swingate.
Swingate have detected a group
of aircraft approaching the channel.
Track 167 are German.
'Track 167 WN8554.'
That's them, RAF Debden.
Scramble fighters to intercept.
'Calling red section,
blue section, scramble east.'
Six Hurricanes heading east
and climbing.
'Branscombe calling
Filter Operations.'
Go ahead, Branscombe.
'Roger. Track 167'
Branscombe have detected aircraft.
Make 167 a German bomber,
scramble fighters to intercept.
Darsham have picked up aircraft
leaving the French coast.
My new track is 171.
'Red section, blue section,
'enemy bombers
heading towards Lowestoft.'
'Red leader. Maintain angels 18.
'Your target 15 plus now at
one o'clock and slightly below.'
'Red leader to red and blue section,
bandits at one o'clock low,
'coming in fast. Tally ho!'
If you've been inspired by this
story and would like to learn more,
the Open University explores radar
and other innovations
which overcame the odds.
To find out more, go to...
..and follow the links
to the Open University.