10 things you didn’t know about Alan Turing and Bletchley Park

Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley are to star in a new film about Second World War code-breaker Alan Turing. Due for UK release on 14 November, The Imitation Game portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his team at Britain's top-secret code-breaking centre, Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of the Second World War


Turing, who is credited with cracking the German Enigma code, helped to significantly shorten the war and save thousands of lives.


To celebrate the release of the film, The Imitation Game: The Exhibition will open to visitors of Bletchley Park on Monday 10 November. Here, in an exclusive article, experts from Bletchley Park reveal 10 things you might not know about Alan Turing and his work at the famous code-breaking centre:

• Alan Turing was born in 1912 and studied mathematics at King’s College. Afterwards he completed his PhD at Princeton in the US. His thesis was ‘Systems of logic based on ordinals’.

• As well as being an incredible intellect, Alan Turing was also a well-regarded athlete, having achieved world-class marathon standards.

• Turing’s most important theoretical work ‘On computable numbers’ was written in 1936.  This essentially founded modern computer science.

• Alan Turing arrived at Bletchley in 1939 and soon became the head of the Naval Enigma Team. In 1941, Alan Turing broke Naval Enigma for the first time, contributing decisively to the U-boat war.

• In 1945, Alan Turing was awarded an OBE for his wartime services.


• Turing gave the earliest known lecture to mention computer intelligence in 1947. He is considered the ‘father of modern computing’. Turing’s article ‘Computing machinery and intelligence’, led to what is now known as the Turing Test. This test examines a machine’s ability to demonstrate intelligent behaviour equivalent to or indistinguishable from a human.

• Turing’s article ‘The chemical basis of morphogenesis’ published in 1952 anticipated the field now known as artificial life.

• Later that year, a time when homosexuality was illegal in the UK, Alan Turing was convicted for gross indecency. The conviction made him a target for surveillance at the start of the Cold War.

• Alan Turing’s work at Bletchley helped shorten the war by two to four years.

• Contributions of the Bletchley Park code-breakers include helping the launch of Operation Overlord, misleading German intelligence on the D-Day landing and assisting with the war in the Pacific.

The Imitation Game, which is due for release on 14 November, stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing and Keira Knightley as close friend and fellow code-breaker Joan Clarke. The film also features Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear and Charles Dance.

To find out more, check out the film’s Facebook page or follow @ImitationGameUK on Twitter.


Watch the trailer here: