ITV will show a new period drama called The Bletchley Circle from Thursday 6th September at 9pm on ITV1. According to the Milton Keynes Citizen, the story “follows the lives of four fictional women whose brilliant work at Bletchley Park during WWII helped to smash codes used by the German military.”
Susan, Millie, Lucy and Jean are back living normal lives, but behind Susan’s conventional exterior as a 1950s housewife and mother is a steely determination that really shouldn’t be under-estimated.
The unresolved murders of Jane Hart and Patricia Oakes bring Susan’s detective skills to the fore once more, and armed with handwritten charts of numbers, dates and times, she spots a pattern of behaviour that no-one else has seen…
The Milton Keynes Citizen quotes Laura Mackie, part of the ITV Drama Commissioning team, saying “The Bletchley Circle combines a vivid portrait of post-war Britain with a taut and original codebreaking thriller”. Here’s a very short trailer for the show:
Source: More drama at Bletchley Park! – Milton Keynes Citizen.
More info: The Bletchley Circle on ITV.com
The BBC reports that two papers by Alan Turing, believed to have been written while he was working at Bletchley Park, have been released by GCHQ. The papers, ‘The Applications of Probability to Crypt’, and ‘Paper on the Statistics of Repetitions’, apparently use mathematical analysis to try and determine which are the more likely Enigma settings so that they can be tried as quickly as possible.
The article quotes “a GCHQ mathematician” saying that GCHQ had now “squeezed the juice” out of the two papers and was “happy for them to be released into the public domain”, but that the fact that the contents had been restricted “shows what a tremendous importance it has in the foundations of our subject”. The two papers are now available to view at the National Archives at Kew, west London.
Source: Alan Turing papers on code breaking released by GCHQ.
The BBC has reported that a pair of Enigma machines used in the Spanish Civil War have been given to the head of GCHQ, Britain’s communications intelligence agency. Apparently these machines are two of “around two dozen” discovered “a few years ago, in a secret room at the Spanish Ministry of Defence in Madrid.” The article explains how these “fill in a missing chapter in the history of British code-breaking”. Apparently the use of commercial Enigma machines between Spain and Germany during the Spanish Civil War gave British codebreakers access to live traffic, since military signals used within Germany were too weak to hear in Britain. Within six or seven months, in April 1937, Dilly Knox produced his first decryption of an Enigma message.
As to how this relates to the better known Enigma story, the article explains that:
The machines used in Spain were modified versions of the commercial Enigma machine. The military machine that would be used by Germany during World War II was an order of magnitude more secure because a plugboard was attached to the front.
These more complex signals are where the better known Polish/Bletchley Park story of Enigma fits into the story.
The BBC explains the trade made for the two Enigma machines:
In return the UK handed over a number of items including a German four rotor Naval Enigma machine recovered from Flensburg in May 1945, an Enigma rotor box and related documents. The idea is that this could serve as the foundation of a display on code-making and code-breaking at the Spanish Army Museum
One machine will be held at GCHQ and the other will be placed on public display at Bletchley Park. The full article gives some interesting insight from the GCHQ historian and the director of Spain’s intelligence service.
Source: BBC News – The Spanish link in cracking the Enigma code.
James Grime, of the Enigma project and guest editor of the February 2012 code month at Nrich, has posted a code breaking challenge on his YouTube channel singingbanana. The prize is a signed copy of Simon Singh’s The Code Book. You can get the ciphertext to decrypt along with a couple of clues presented with James’ trademark charm in the video singingbanana code challenge 2012. The winner and solution will be announced in March.
(Edited 11:28 to add link to Nrich Codes and Ciphers – February 2012 page.)