Starts Wednesday May 10 at 9.30pm

Fusing true stories with dramatic reconstructions, LIVED TO TELL THE TALE looks at the survival of ordinary people in the face of extraordinary adversity.

Retold from the perspective of eyewitness accounts, this six-part BBC series, starting Wednesday May 10 at 9.30pm , features both natural and man-made disasters.

Each program recounts the individual tales of the survivors and rescuers, as well as their heroism and endurance in battling against forces beyond their control. This dramatisation is then followed by a short documentary featuring interviews with real-life survivors who share their recollections.

The series includes (air dates in brackets):

Eruption At Mount St Helens (May 10) - When it erupted in 1980, Mt. St. Helens unleashed a destructive force estimated to be 500 times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The film is told from the perspective of the scientists and locals working and living in the shadow of this time bomb.

San Francisco (May 17) - Disaster came without warning one October afternoon in 1989 when the most powerful earthquake to hit northern California for more than 80 years destroyed buildings, wrecked highways and left survivors trapped. The film follows the efforts of volunteers and firefighters.

TheMunichAir Crash (May 24) - Matt Busby's brilliant young Manchester United team was returning from a European cup semi-final in Yugoslavia in 1958 when their plane crashed on the snowy runway. The film tells the story of the tragedy and its aftermath using eyewitness accounts and contemporary newsreel.

Iranian Hostages(TBC) - In November 1979, Iranian militants seized the US embassy in Tehran , taking 66 Americans hostage. The film re-creates the disaster - including the subsequent downfall of President Carter - fusing a drama documentary with archive footage of those in Operation Eagle Claw.

Estonia(TBC) - In September 1994, the Estonia passenger ferry embarked on what was to be her last voyage. The film features the accounts of those who escaped the sinking ship and survived the agonising seven-hour wait to be rescued. Of the 989 on board crew and passengers on board, only 137 survived.

Fastnet(TBC) - This 600 mile race in 1979 became the greatest disaster in the history of yacht racing when a transatlantic storm hit. Fifteen people died, 77 yachts capsized and five sank. The film reconstructs the race and its aftermath, based on the first hand accounts of a variety of eye-witnesses.