Bletchley Park: Code-breaking's Forgotten Genius

1. Make It Digital 2015

BBC 2 Series 1 Episode 1
First broadcast 7th September 2015, 21:00
Duration: 01:00:17
Gordon Welchman was one of the original elite codebreakers crucial to the allies defeating the Nazis in World War II. He is the forgotten genius of Bletchley Park. Filmed extensively at Bletchley Park, where Welchman pioneered his groundbreaking work, and the machines that Welchman helped design. Post-war, Welchman moved to the United States to be at the nerve centre of the computer revolution. Recently released top secret documents reveal that the case of Gordon Welchman reached the desk of the British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, and then led to questions being asked in the House of Commons after Welchman's untimely death. Welchman's legacy continues to this day as Professor John Naughton and former CIA analyst Cynthia Storer reveal how Welchman's pioneering work in the field of traffic analysis led directly to the modern secret surveillance state.

Clips from this programme

Opening Titles and Introduction: Gordon Welchman was one of the original elite codebreakers crucial to the allies defeating the Nazis in World War II. He is the forgotten genius of Bletchley Park. Filmed extensively at Bletchley Park: Why have we never heard of him? (Rosamund Welchman). His work: Still Classified. Alan Turing and Edward Snowden

Duration: 02:22

Bletchley Park, Enigma, September 1939, a code assembled to crack a code - Enigma. Gordon Welchman & Alan Turing recruited (Sinclair McKay (Author 'The Secret Life of Bletchley Park'). Gordon Welchman was dashing and

Duration: 01:35

Welchman (one of the original 5 elite code-breakers for the Enigma challenge): His approach to cracking the code, tracking call signs, a fantastic insight an a breakthrough into the German communication traffic analysis (Asa Briggs - Veteran, Hut6). The weapon: Intelligence

Duration: 03:54

Bletchley Park Hut 6: The phoney war still: A Bletchley re-organisation recruitment for Hut 6, with brilliant people (Jane Fawcett, Veteran, Hut 6 (one of 400 working in Hut 6)). Ultra begins to be able to read German Intelligence traffic - ULTRA. Welshman (Head of Hut 6) reveals Hut 6's significance to Dunkirk

Duration: 05:40

The Bletchley Bombe: 1940 - Hut 6 Traffic Analysis, decoded by the Bombe, the need for accurate cribs. Welshman discovered how to gain these cribs (Jimmy Thirsk, Veteran, Hut 6) from particular operators via 'gardening'. Welshman came up with a modification to Alan Turing's design to speed the processing with the Bombe: The diagonal board

Duration: 04:05

Sink The Bismarck: May 1941 : Intelligence can also bring victory, after HMS Hood was sunk with only 3 survivors. Welchman's team - Searching for references to Bismark, its location discovered, The Bismark is sunk with 2000 crew. Bletchley Park had proved that its intelligence could sink ships.

Duration: 04:58

Bletchley Under-resourced: Going to the very top - Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman, Stuart Milner-Barry write to Winston Churchill for more staff: Action this day! 1000s now worked into the new Hut 6, 2 Bombes became 200, 8000 people worked at Bletchley by the end of the war - A code breaking factory changing the course of the war, U-boats and D day included (Professor John Naughton-Vice President Wolfson College, Cambridge)

Duration: 04:24

Bletchley Park Hut 6 restored and re-visited by Rosamund Welchman, Gordon Welchman the most central figure to Bletchley Park's success (Sir John Scarlett KCMG OBE Chairman Bletchley Park Trust, Former Chief MI6)

Duration: 01:42

Bletchley Park- The secrecy and the legacy: The next war (from 1946). The cold war. GCHQ and the NSA. Britain was squandering the Bletchley legacy and missing the opportunity of the new computer revolution. Gordon Welchman move to MIT, USA for defence technologies through MITRE (Robert R Everett, Former President, The MITRE Corporation) (Eric Ellingson, Welchman's colleague) - The Nuclear threat

Duration: 04:10

Gordon Welchman now a US citizen with the highest Civilian security clearance: USA communication needed to be resilient against nuclear attack (Larry Hill, Welchman's colleague). Welchman's answer: A new kind of secure network, a horseshoe or 'The Cloud', game changer or battle-management still in use today, and a pre-cursor of how the internet works today with the surveillance society

Duration: 03:33

1971, Gordon Welchman in Newburyport from 1971, aged 65 his work still secret. 1974: A book, The Ultra Secret by F.W. Winterbotham revealed many of the secret world of Bletchley in WWII, a non-sensational controlled disclosure (Nigel West - Security and Intelligence Historian). Gordon Welchman could talk about it at last (Diana Lucy (Friend) and to write a book about that Cryptographic history, 7 years in the writing; 'The Hut 6 Story' published in USA in 1982

Duration: 05:29

Gordon Welchman's book 'The Hut 6 Story': The secret world hits back (Skye Duncan Wentworth - Gordon Welchman's neighbour)- The NSA (Dr Dave Hatch-Official NSA Historian) - Cryptanalysis by an insider, saying there is no system that can service this kind of attack. Traffic Analysis knowledge learnt 40 years previously was still classified (Jennifer Welchman, Gordon's Granddaughter). All book publicity cancelled (James Bamford, author of 'The Puzzle Palace'). NSA, Margaret Thatcher, GCHQ, and then led to questions being asked in the House of Commons. Threats of imprisonment. 1982: security clearance withdrawn

Duration: 12:24

Gordon Welchman's legacy: The internet, metadata, analytics, traffic analysis, data analysis, Edward Snowden and privacy + covert networks (Cynthia Storer, Former CIA Analyst). Gordon Welchman's equally brilliant achievements to Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman a forgotten genius

Duration: 04:47

End Titles

Duration: 00:29

Make It Digital: Trails

Duration: 00:40