January 2006: A NEW film about the Munich air disaster has dramatically reconstructed the crash and its aftermath. The BBC1 production – Surviving Disaster: Munich Air Crash – is the first screen drama to show what happened in the tragedy of February 6 1958. Filmed in Lithuania, the drama tells the story of the team’s fateful last journey, including harrowing scenes at the crash site and Rechts der Isar Hospital in Munich.
The M.E.N. has been given exclusive access to the hour-long drama, due to be screened next month. It features Maurice Roeves as Sir Matt, Branwell Donaghey as goalkeeper Harry Gregg and John McArdle as sportswriter Frank Taylor, the only journalist to survive.
It is based on eyewitness accounts and interviews with some of the surviving players, including Gregg, Albert Scanlon, Kenny Morgan and Bill Foulkes. But both United and survivor Bobby Charlton decided they did not want to be involved with the film.
The drama recreates the first two attempted take-offs from the German airport, which were abandoned by the pilots, and their third doomed journey down the runway. It shows scenes inside the BEA Elizabethan airliner as it broke apart, including the screams of passengers, and frantic rescue efforts among the dead and injured.
Matt Busby is seen seriously injured in his seat on the runway and later in a hospital oxygen tent. He eventually made a full recovery.
England international Duncan Edwards, 21, regarded as the greatest footballer of his generation, is played by actor Matt Kennard. The film shows him receiving the last rites in hospital when he lost his fight for life 15 days later.
BBC series producer Greg Lanning said the TV team had taken great care in dealing with what he acknowledged was “a sensitive subject”. He maintained the aim of the drama documentary was to explain the lessons learned from the crash and tell the story of the Busby Babes’ tragedy, which many younger viewers may not know.
He said: “We tried to contact everybody who was alive. Perhaps understandably, Bobby Charlton doesn’t really want to talk about it or be reminded of it. But there were other players who we did speak to.
“And we either have, or we’re in the process of, contacting all the relatives we can find to alert them to the fact that the film is going to be on.” The crash wreck was constructed on a Lithuanian airfield with the inside of the plane built on a set. A combination of a model and computer- generated imagery was also involved, plus the cockpit of a real plane in a museum.