Three-hour German TV epic provokes outcry ... Producers defend film of British pilot's affair

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It is one of the most controversial bombing raids of the second world war. But a new blockbuster TV drama about the bombing of Dresden has provoked withering criticism in Germany, particularly about its improbable sex scene between a shot-down British pilot and a German nurse.

Dresden: An Inferno is the first television feature film to be made about the bombing of Dresden. The raid by British bombers on February 13 1945 saw the near total destruction of one of Germany's most beautiful cities. Many Germans regard the bombing as a war crime.

The three-hour film is to be shown tomorrow and Monday by Germany's ZDF television channel. It depicts the firestorm that engulfed Dresden after the RAF's raid, with burning people jumping out of windows and families suffocating in cellars.

But it is the "sickly-sweet" love story that has enraged the critics. The pilot - played by British actor John Light - falls in love with a German nurse after he escapes from a mob and hides in her hospital. The two manage an intimate encounter on the ward, with the pilot later turning up in disguise at a party of SS officers. The film ends with the tearful nurse telling her British lover: "I love you."

"I didn't realise there was so much beautiful lingerie in Dresden in February 1945. They must have been able to do some wonderful things with parachutes," one British diplomat who saw the film observed drily yesterday.

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