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The Secret Army commissioned by BBC Northern Ireland

J. Bowyer Bell with IRA Army Council Member

J. Bowyer Bell with IRA Army Council Member


A new documentary, The Secret Army, has been commissioned by BBC Northern Ireland and will be broadcast on BBC iPlayer, BBC NI and BBC Four in later this month. It is produced by BBC NI’s award-winning Current Affairs team, also responsible for Spotlight and Spotlight On The Troubles: A Secret History.


BBC NI’s feature-length documentary follows journalist Darragh MacIntyre as he attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding the making of an extraordinary American documentary, filmed inside the IRA in 1972 but which vanished for almost 50 years.



During his investigation, Darragh uncovers the original film reels in New York. He investigates how this documentary was made and finds one of the American production team who was present in Northern Ireland for the filming in 1972, the bloodiest year of the Troubles. He also tracks down some of the former IRA men who appeared in the documentary.


Adam Smyth, Director of BBC NI says:


“In its 50-year history, the Spotlight team’s track record speaks for itself in breaking big and important stories in the best traditions of investigative journalism. Darragh and the team behind this new feature length film for BBC NI and BBC Four have uncovered a significant story about our past and with dogged determination have brought it to light.”



Darragh MacIntyre, Reporter says:


“In 1972, an unusual film team turned up in Northern Ireland but none of them had any real obvious experience in making documentaries, yet they were given exceptional access inside the IRA. In our investigation, despite the passage of over 50 years, we’ve tried to find as many of the pieces of the puzzle to reveal how this documentary was made.”


John O’Kane, Producer says:


“One of the biggest challenges was finding anyone still alive who knew anything about how this was made, or why the IRA agreed to allow this team to follow their operations, given the legal risks of appearing on camera. It was all shrouded in mystery – and in peeling back the layers of this story we’ve discovered something that is much more complicated than we imagined.”


The Secret Army airs on Wednesday 27 March at 9pm on BBC Two Northern Ireland and BBC iPlayer.




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