Series 2012 - The Man Who Stopped WW3: Revealed

The Man Who Stopped WW3: Revealed

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As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, this film reveals an unnerving and long-hidden side to the events of October 1962.

Today, the public remembers Kennedy and Khrushchev's public battle of wills. However, away from the spotlight of global politics, this programme reveals a shocking drama on board a Russian submarine, which brought the world closer to World War III than anyone had ever thought.

As the world held its breath, four Soviet submarines sailed for Cuba while the might of the US Navy was unleashed to hunt them down. On 27th October, with the crisis at its height, the two made contact. Surrounded by hunter-killer groups depth-charging his submarine to drive it to the surface, Captain Savitsky panicked. Unable to contact Moscow and fearing the war had begun, he ordered the launch of his 'special weapon' – a nuclear torpedo with the same payload as the bomb that devastated Hiroshima.

Along with Savitsky, two other men had to authorise the fire – the political officer Masslenikov and the chief of staff, Arkhipov. With temperatures reaching 120ºF and CO2 levels growing dangerously high, Masslenikov agreed. All they needed to unleash nuclear Armageddon was the say-so of one man.

The story of what happened that fateful day remained hidden for decades, only emerging in Russia in recent years. With brand-new eye witness accounts, the first ever TV interview with Arkhipov's widow and dramatic reconstruction, this documentary reveals the actions of Vasili Arkhipov, the man who saved the world.

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Comments (18)

  • colingarbuth

    over 1 year ago


    Well done Channel 5 on demand...You seem to have sorted your problems with online content. I've actually watched two programmes without any problems.................

  • Martha Flynn

    over 1 year ago

    Martha Flynn

    I am just amazed that we have never heard of Vasili Arkhipov until now - I was living in NY way back when and could have been one of the first to be nuked. We were told in history class that Khrushchev backed off after Kennedy's blockade - but Vasili was the real hero. It seems I have him to thank for living a further 50 years and more. He needs to be more recognized.

  • @EdwardWilson

    over 1 year ago


    I don't understand why the USA took the Russian submariners but then set the subs adrift. Weren't the Yanks even curious what was in the subs? Were the sailors then just flown straight back to USSR? Wasn't the removal of missiles from Turkey a token face-saver for Moscow as they were nearly obsolete anyway and were quickly replaced by the latest?

  • @Jon johmson/johnson

    over 1 year ago

    @Jon johmson/johnson

    The song to the M&S advert is "A girl like you" by Edwyn Collins. I know becuase I had to search it. Cracking tune!

  • Charles Rothwell

    over 1 year ago

    Charles Rothwell

    Great documentary and fully supports what those of us ancient enough to have actually lived through the events had always suspected; the human race survived through the skin of its truth. No wonder "Dr Strangelove" appeared just over a year later!

  • Bryn Jones

    over 1 year ago

    Bryn Jones

    Truly frustrated. Super documentary. Got the first half, or so without adverts. Came back later, to finish off, and what do I get? Adverts, no programme, three word from JFK. Nothing. Adverts. Progress nil. The brakes are on. Why doesn't your website perform?

  • paul Kavanagh

    over 1 year ago

    paul Kavanagh

    here we go again

  • Stephen Miller

    over 1 year ago

    Stephen Miller

    Well, Channel 5 has prevented this video from being seen in America. Copyright reasons I guess. Stupid though.

  • anonymous

    over 1 year ago


    50 million people died in ww2 because of one power mad, man. The world almost didn't survive 1962, because of power mad men. So mankind it seems owes it's survival to one man Vasili Arkhipov, Thank-you Vasili, R.I.P

  • Paul Sullivan

    over 1 year ago

    Paul Sullivan

    Paul Sullivan I have just graduated with a BA(Hons) in Modern History with my special subject being the Cold War and I found this programme absolutely fascinating, thank you once again for a riveting documentary.

  • Eileen Riley

    over 1 year ago

    Eileen Riley

    Excellent documentary - exciting, fascinating, terrifying. I was a small child in the US while this was happening, sitting under my school desk with my hands on my head. Little did I, or any of the adults it seems, really know what was going on. Thank you Vasili Arkhipov, and Channel 5.

  • Edward Wilson

    over 1 year ago

    Edward Wilson

    Congratulations from the author of THE MIDNIGHT SWIMMER. I extensively researched this incident and the Cuban Missile Crisis for my novel and was impressed by the accuracy of your documentary. The tension was beyond breaking point. Earlier in the day a US U2 spy plane had been shot down over Cuba and the pilot killed. Meanwhile, another U2 had strayed into Soviet airspace and US fighters with nuclear tipped air to air rockets had been scrambled to see off the MiGs pursuing the U2. Humanity was very lucky. Your programme was extremely moving and I was close to tears at end. Vasili's widow Olga was a star.

  • PaulGodfrey

    over 1 year ago


    excellent programme, love these documentaries, Channel 5, well done

  • Jon johmson

    over 1 year ago

    Jon johmson

    What was the 80's tune in the ad during tonight's revealed?

  • Rebecca Fox

    over 1 year ago

    Rebecca Fox

    Great documentary! Thank you for some intelligent well put together viewing. More like this please!!

  • Rebecca Fox

    over 1 year ago

    Rebecca Fox

    Great documentary! Thank you for a programme for those of us who prefer intelligent viewing over the dumbed down drivel that is usually showcased on this channel. More like this please. Good story telling and well put together.

  • CarrieGolby

    over 1 year ago


    Who is the man who plays Vasili Arkhipov??

  • EdwardWilson

    over 1 year ago


    I am pleased and excited that one of the characters in THE MIDNIGHT SWIMMER is the subject of a Channel 5 documentary. On the 27th of October 1962, Vasili Arkhipov saved the world from a nuclear holocaust.