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Michael Portillo begins this week’s delve into the country’s secret past in a quaint and sleepy coastal Suffolk village – but a short boat trip brings him to a huge and mysterious
military compound.

At the centre of Orford Ness, a strip of land nine miles long and one mile wide, is a huge metal building which, Michael reveals, was once an American base for spying on the Russians.

In the 1960s it boasted a huge aerial system whose purpose was to detect the launch of a Russian missile.

Michael also discovers that Orford Ness was the eerie location for much of the testing of the UK’s own weapons of mass destruction.