Royal Navy photographer’s footage features in Bafta-nominated documentary

Topic: PeopleHonours and awards Storyline: People

Film captured by a Navy photographer which recorded the dramatic evacuation of Kabul in 2021 could win a ‘TV Oscar’ next month. [MAY]

Evacuation, which features extensive footage filmed by Petty Officer Ben Shread, has been nominated for a BAFTA Television Award, one of four documentaries fighting for the title: Best Factual Series.

Operation Pitting, as it was codenamed, was one of the largest British military undertakings in recent times, evacuating 15,000 British nationals and eligible Afghans from Kabul.

Ben’s work in Kabul over those momentous few days in the late summer of 2021 earned him the highest honour his branch can award: Royal Navy Photographer of the Year.

But as well as hundreds of still images, many of which were used by newspapers, news agencies and outlets around the globe including BBC, ITV and Sky, the senior rating recorded hours of footage with his Combat Camera Team colleague Flight Lieutenant James Langan.

Spread over three episodes, the 140-minute documentary, which aired on Channel 4 last year, was granted unparalleled access to those involved in the operation – and the many hours of footage (much of it previously unseen) filmed.

Filmmaker James Newton and Wonderhood Studios used that material, plus first-hand interviews with participants, to tell both the story of the evacuation and its impact and emotional toll on those involved.

Should Evacuation triumph at the ceremony on May 12 – it’s up against three other highly-rated factual series: Dublin Narcos, Lockerbie and Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland – it will be the director who lifts the BAFTA, but Ben says it will be recognition of the efforts he and, above all, all those involved in the operation went to.

“A BAFTA nomination is a nod from your fellow professionals – an affirmation that your work resonates,” said the 46-year-old from Glasgow, who’s since left the service and works as a project manager for Barclays Bank.

“It’s an honour that is not given to many and I’m grateful I could have some part in telling the stories of our servicemen and women on the ground.

“However, it's crucial to acknowledge that this documentary wouldn't exist without the courageous efforts of the servicemen and women on the ground. Their bravery and sacrifice are at the heart of this story, and it's an honour to have been able to share their experiences through our footage.”

If you’re wondering… former sailors have picked up BAFTAs on occasions in the past, notably legendary actor Sir Alec Guinness (he commanded a landing craft in the invasion of Sicily).

And if you missed it on TV, you can still watch Evacuation online at