The BBC’s World War One Centenary Programming: Five Highlights

Now that the BBC’s Centenary programming has kicked off with Paxman’s much-discussed Britain’s Great War, I thought I would cast my eye over what else is planned for the next four years, and what I am looking forward to. More detailed programme information can be found here on the BBC’s website, but these are the five TV and radio programmes I’m most looking forward to:

 

I Was There: The Great War Interviews (BBC Two)

As a big supporter of oral history, and of learning directly about an event from the perspective of those who lived through it, this programme looks particualrly interesting. These interviews were originally filmed for the BBC’s The Great War, broadcast over 50 years ago, but the programme is slated to include many exerpts of the 250 recordings that were not broadcast in the original series.

 

Voices of the Great War (Radio 4)

In much the same vein as above, this Radio 4 programme will broadcast extracts from the vast resources of the retrospective interviews held in the Imperial War Museum’s Sound Archive. Whilst I doubt there will be much analysis, it is always interesting to hear the accounts.

 

The World’s War (BBC Two)

We know the First World War was a global war, but beyond the Western Front what do we really know about the Empire’s involvement in the conflict? The historian David Olusoga explores this by telling the story of the war from the perspective of hundreds of thousands of Indian, African and Asian troops and ancillaries who fought and died alongside Europeans, both in Europe and in lesser known theatres such as Mesopotamia.

 

Hidden Histories: WW1’s Forgotten Photographs (BBC Four)

This documentary explores the pictures taken by British and German soldiers at the front, very personal snapshots showing a microcosm of the conflict. These aren’t the official War Office pictures that we’re familiar with, but private photo albums, taken with personal cameras that were actually banned at various stages throughout the war. I also declare a slight conflict of interest here as I worked on the programme and I’m eager to see how it has turned out and how it is received!

 

Our World War (BBC Three)

Based on the very successful Our War, and utilising the same format of POV helmet camera footage, surveillance images and night vision, Our World War is a factual drama series that attempts to show what the war would have been like for those who endured it. Over three episodes, different events from across the war will be shown to audiences, from 1914, through to the Somme, and the Hundred Days. I’m wary of how it will all pan out, and whether dramatic license or modern perceptions of “what it must have been like” over-ride historical evidence, but at the same time if it comes off it could be great.

 

So that’s what I’m looking forward to. Let me know if anything else in the schedule has caught your eye!

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