'Their Finest Hour,' A Tom Brokaw Documentary to Premiere Saturday, August 11 During NBC's Daytime Coverage of the London Olympics

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

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August 6th, 2012

via press release:




“Their Finest Hour” Honors Host Country, Great Britain



LONDON - August 6, 2012 – “Their Finest Hour,” a Tom Brokaw documentary in honor of host country Great Britain, will premiere on Saturday, August 11, during NBC’s daytime coverage of the London Olympics. NBC’s Olympic daytime show starts at 10 a.m. ET/PT.


In Tom Brokaw’s words, “Their Finest Hour” explores the debt Americans owe to the British people. In 1940 and 1941, just prior to the United States entering World War II, Britain miraculously stood firm against Nazi terror. And, as historian Anthony Beevor states in the documentary, Hitler would have ruled all of Europe, and there would have been very little the United States could have done about it.


"Their Finest Hour" was shot across Britain in London, Dover, Coventry, Portsmouth, Bladon and Cambridge over the course of two years. Assistants to the producers engaged in a worldwide search for supporting archival footage. In particular, with more than 25 different sources, the documentary uses a vast amount of recently discovered color film footage of the period that had been forgotten for decades. Airing the day before the Closing Ceremony, “Their Finest Hour” is a tribute to England as the host of the 2012 Olympics. It is powerful and insightful, shedding light on a piece of history that may be unknown to the American viewer.


Co-produced by NBC Olympics Story Editor and Senior Producer Brian Brown, and Executive Editor Joe Gesue, “Their Finest Hour” is one in a series of documentaries that Brown, Gesue and Brokaw have collaborated on over the years. Past work included a documentary about Gander, Newfoundland, during the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, where planes headed for the U.S. on 9/11 landed and remained for days.





  • Lou Sherwood

    Hope this will be reaired. Missed all but the last 10 mins. I enjoyed Tom’s documentaries.

  • glynis dohn

    Kudos to NBC for airing this during prime time Olympics coverage. Great show and tribute to the Brits, and their history and courageI I hope most people watched, and didn’t walk away, it’s so important to not forget….. It’s not that long ago.

  • erica

    very interesting documentary – always enjoy Tom’s work. Disappointed in the airing time, we had people over to watch the Olympics and we all have little one’s,so party will end before we were able to watch all the events we wanted to see:-(

  • Dlnor

    I hope they’ll show it again.

  • Wendy Merseth

    This was one of the most remarkable documentaries I’ve seen! Oh that we still can talk to people with first hand knowledge who are willing to share their painful memories is amazing! So grateful to these brave souls! May God bless them!

  • Thomas D. Morris

    This documentary was absolutely appalling. The most serious problem was the connection made to the Olympic games. Those games are to be a forum for athletic competition of athletes from all nations. It is not a venue for a review of the history of
    Some of the countries whose athletes are entered in the games. To present it as a tribute to t he host nation is disingenuous. I do no recall such a tribute to any other past host . Was there such a program honoring China for instance? I doubt many people outside Britian or the U.S. were impressed .

    You should be ashamed by your decision to air a piece so out of tune with the.spirit of the Olympics.

  • Ozmeth

    I understand how many here are upset that their children are unable to watch sports and instead must endure an important lesson in world history. God help those who’s children are forcibly educated and made aware of the world around them, outside of the world of sports or classroom propaganda.

    For people’s children to understand that the world is a better place today, one where they too can aspire to compete in the Oymic Games, is just wrong.

    Shame on you NBC, people want their kids to watch sports, schools out for the summer. If their great grandparents joined the many nations who flew with the RAF, they should just be forgotten, today’s heroes are earning gold medals, not purple crosses.

  • Deb Maddox

    Still unhappy about the lack of his Gander documentary during the Calgary Olympics. My favorite ever.

  • Relevance

    Did you see this documentary? Fantastic & illuminating! It puts everything into context & the significance of London on the world stage. It should have been broadcast before or at the beginning of the Olympic broadcasts, in prime-time. We in America tend to forget history.

    Yes, it was a history lesson. And those who fail to learn from the past are cursed to repeat its mistakes. However, during Olympics TV coverage, EVERY background article, EVERY clip about athletes, teams, and events are history lessons. No one can know all this stuff. And all of them have a worthwhile story to tell.

    Every 4 years I dread the programming disruptions of the Olympics, & then I become riveted to the screen when the competition starts. The stories are just too uplifting to ignore. “Their Finest Hour” follows in that tradition. However, the gravity of the competition of the Olympics compared to World War II is like the difference between signing-up for an afterschool sports team to a wartime tour of duty. I thank those veterans of earlier conflicts, like those of the Battle of Britain, who gave us the freedom that allows us to enjoy an activity like watching Olympics coverage, instead of being forced to prepare for a real fight in a real “shooting” war. We, especially in the US, need the reminder.

  • Burt Lark

    On the subject of airing “Their Finest Hour” as part of the Olympic Coverage

    First of all, the Olympic Spirit is supposed to bring the people of the world together and political, personal and religious Anything is not allowed.
    Tom Brokaw, I always though of you as a person with a lot of integrity and class. Sorry, you have none. and neither does NBC. And most of the Americans are responding on the airing of this movie, well like Americans. Partially or totally ignorant and usually totally arrogant. No wonder so many people of the world don’t like us.
    Ask the German Athletes at the London Olympics how they feel about some American Broadcasting Company introducing something POLITICAL of almost 70 years ago, when they were not even born. Tom Brokaw, you have no class being part of this.
    Imagine a German Broadcasting company, during the 1994 Olympics in the USA, airing a program all over Europe as part of the the coverage of the Olympics, about how the blacks in America were (and to some degree still are) treated as second class citizens, the same people who are winning most of the metals for the USA.
    Imagine, this German broadcasting station also showing, how many Indians were killed (10 million Indians when the white man arrived – 1 Million in 1900) and how General Custer paraded Indian Squaws in Denver and then had there breasts cut off (“How the West was Lost”).
    As for the British, starving 1 Plus Million Irish to death is rarely ever mentioned, and, of course, in their establishment of colonies, they never had to kill anyone as all people then wanted to learn English so their children’s children’s children could operated a laptop. (do you also remember how many Americans were killed by the British in our attempt to be free of them?)
    I totally go with the young British waitress, who said to an American Journalist when he over-zealously shoved a microphone into her face and asked her what she thought of the 60th. Anniversary of D-Day: ” By George, get over it. It’s been over 60 years ago”

    One good thing, the Europeans don’t get to see NBC broadcasting and your name is not a household word. Aren’t they lucky.

  • w s eddy

    Perhaps Mr Brokaw and NBC should have realized that the audience would be primarily of persons who did not know World War II’s history and fretted over an interruption of Olympics coverage.

    If the two had better realized that, their quality coverage could have been better. The role of the Commonwealth, especially our good friends to the north of the 49th parallel was understated, as was the role of aviators from conquered states, especially Poland, a nation for whom Churchill fought too weakly the final months of the war. On a per capita basis, Canada, I believe, had more battlefield deaths than even the UK or the USA, and Canada had no small role in the D Day landings.

    Such key developments such as Lend Lease and “bases for battleships” were ignored or downplayed, which was unfortunate. What was done to Coventry, and how that city looks today, merited the mention it received–but so was coverage of the Dresden bombing, and the personal peace a UK citizen experienced and shared with us after a visit to that city.

    One wonders why those Nazi bombers that so devastated London week after week were not significantly challenged by UK planes–if they were, Mr Brokaw did not tell us.

    All in all, may I share an earlier comment–that those who criticized the airing of this tribute during the Olympics were “utter idiots”? We simply must never forget that war and all that our closest allies, the British, did for themselves, of course, but also for us and, yes, for all of western civilization!

  • Kimberly

    It was a great documentary, but it should have aired another time. The athletes should be able to compete in a global arena without bias or judgement. No doubt the German olympians were embarrased and ashamed even though the war was so long ago. The coverage was unnecessary and in poor taste.

  • Robert

    gerald ceasar:

    Not to be disrespectful of the fine performance of the Polish pilots in the BoB, but your figure is way off. Of the 2,927 RAF fighter pilots who flew in the BoB, 147 were Polish. That’s 5%, not 20%.

    303 Squadron did indeed have the most kills of any RAF squadron during the BoB (126), but the top three scoring RAF aces were British. Josef Frantisek, a Czech serving with No 303, was fourth:

    Eric Lock – 21
    James Lacey – 18
    Archie McKellar – 17.5
    Josef Frantisek – 17
    Colin Gray – 15.5

  • Charlie Troxell

    What’s the big problem, you whining couch potatoes? Missed one hour of sports action? Take a look. Baseball is still going and football is around the next corner. Tom Brokaw’s presentation was incredible and I salute NBC for including it last night. I hope you watched it. Nice, wasn’t it, that all you had to do is watch television and not open a book.

  • Chris

    As for Polish fighter aces not being specified in the documentary, there were pilots from all over, including the US too. At that time they had become Royal Air Force pilots, not the Polish Air Force. Many of the US pilots who went to England early and flew with the RAF were ExPats who returned to England too. The point is, they were fighting as British forces for the RAF at the time. I don’t think anyone actually thinks that the RAF pilots during the Battle of Britain were strictly Brits, unless they’ve never opened a “real” history book before.
    Why didn’t they fight the bombers? They fought in the day, sortie after sortie, some pilots flying a dozen or more missions in a single day due to their shortage in numbers, with ground crews rapidy repairing planes in the process. At night, it was ights out all over Southern England, making direct combat all but impossible. The bombers just flew in and bombed relentlessly and without direct targets so precision flying and combat was not possible. They usually didn’t know if they were bombing intended targets on river in London or a childrens school in Croyden or Bromley; not exactly digfighting time. Most bombs missed their intended targets, making it devastating on a civilian population too. When you drop many thousands of tonnes of bombs, you are bound to hit something worthwhile sooner or later. Hitler had given up on Great Britain and focused Eastward to Russia to continue his campaign before D-Day.

  • Sandra

    STILL searching ALL these years to purchase a copy of the Gander piece from the Vancouver Olympics he did – Operation Yellow Ribbon – would pay $50 for it, easily – an amazing piece and they’ve only showed it twice over the years….why can’t we purchase these pieces from nbc???????

  • FC

    Absolutely spellbinding piece of work. A shame that so many were (and are)
    too short-sighted to appreciate it.

  • Shirley Quenzer

    Will there be a video available of “Their Finest Hour”? I would really like a copy to show my history classes

  • Linda Sterner

    Is it possible to get a DVD of this fine program????? When?

  • Thomas Luria

    How can this documentary be seen for those of us who missed it?

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