Bombing of Greenpeace ship 'Rainbow Warrior' story to be told in new BBC documentary

 Picture shows: 'NUCLEAR FREE PACIFIC' sign on Rainbow Warrior.
(Image credit: BBC/Oxford Scientific Films/TNZ)

In 1985 the "Rainbow Warrior", a ship operated by the environmental campaign group Greenpeace was bombed while on its way to a protest in Auckland — a crew member, Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira, died when it sank.

The full story behind this Cold War tragedy is a complex one though, featuring police investigations, crooked businessmen and government cover-ups. And it's all finally being told, for the first time as a documentary, in the upcoming BBC miniseries Murder in the Pacific.

Murder in the Pacific will look at the bombing itself, but it'll also explore the reasons behind the protest and the attempts of the French government to hinder it. The Rainbow Warrior was attempting to protest nuclear and other testing carried out by France, the USSR, the UK, and the USA, so it's a story that could leave many countries red-faced.

Many people involved in the event will feature in the documentary, including crew members on board the Rainbow Warrior as well as members of the New Zealand police members who investigated the crime, the French operatives who carried out the bombing, the journalists who uncovered the conspiracy and other people involved with the events.

Director Chloe Campbell said about the documentary "Speaking to people on both sides of this tragedy, we were struck by the similarity in spirit between the victims and the people who carried out the plot. They were all young people seeking adventure and wanting to change the world for the better."

If you're interested in the case, it was also the subject of TV drama The Rainbow Warrior starring Jon Voight and Sam Neill, and the miniseries The Rainbow Warrior Conspiracy starring Jack Thompson and Brad Davis.

Murder in the Pacific, the three-part documentary is set to air on BBC Two on Thursday, March 2 at 9 pm, and will also be available to view on iPlayer as a box set.

Tom Bedford
Streaming and Ecommerce Writer

Tom is the streaming and ecommerce writer at What to Watch, covering streaming services in the US and UK. His goal is to help you navigate the busy and confusing online video market, to help you find the TV, movies and sports that you're looking for without having to spend too much money.