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Backs to the Blast, an Australian Nuclear Story (1981)


The documentary summarises nuclear testing in the 1950s in Australia and its consequences. This compilation documentary uses archival footage from both scientific recordings and newsreels of the time. The film was made in 1981, 25 years after the above-ground nuclear testing in the ’50s.

Curator’s notes

There was considerable political impact after the film’s initial broadcast on the Seven network in 1981. The documentary prompted a House of Lords enquiry in Britain and a Royal Commission in Australia chaired by Justice James McClelland. The Australian Government sent the British Government a bill for $250 million to clean up the affected area. Eventually the traditional owners were able to return to their lands. The film was released by Channel 4 in the UK and the documentary has been screened in six other countries.