Louis Mountbatten was not only Prince Phillip’s uncle, he was an Admiral of the Fleet, a statesman, Viceroy of the British Indian Empire, Governor-General of the Independent India and a First Sea Lord. But in the summer of 1979, on a sailing holiday in the Republic of Ireland, he became the victim of an IRA assassination. This documentary explores the events surrounding the bomb explosion, which took the life of not just Mountbatten, but his 14 year old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, a 15 year old cabin boy and 83 year old Baroness Brabourne.
Simon Armitage presents the extraordinary story of the most disturbing witch trial in British history and the key role played in it by one nine year old girl. Jennet Device, a beggar girl from Pendle in Lancashire, was the star witness in the trial in 1612 of her own mother, her brother, her sister and many of her neighbours and, thanks to her chilling testimony, they were all hanged. Armitage explores the lethal power and influence of one child’s words – a story of fear, magic and demonic pacts retold partly with vivid and innovative hand drawn animation.
Ten thought – provoking episodes bring a fresh perspective to Scotland’s past and challenges many of the perceived notions of Scottish history. Using the very latest in historical research A History of Scotland is a sweeping and insightful chronicle of an often turbulent, but continuingly fascinating nation.
The story follows the life of gay school teacher Bob who is fed up with the shallowness of dating on the gay club scene in Manchester. A romantic at heart Bob yearns to meet the right person and settle down. After yet another unsuccessful gay date he meets Rose while they are both waiting for a taxi cab. Rose is disenchanted with her down-to-earth boyfriend and is smitten with Bob but she does not initially realise he is gay. Subsequent episodes chart their on-off love affair.
On September 3rd 1939, 25 year old English aristocrat Unity Mitford walked into a Munich park and shot herself in the head. Distraught at the prospect of England declaring war on her beloved Fuhrer, Britain’s most notorious Nazi sympathiser seemed determined to make the ultimate act of fanatical devotion. Featuring original testimony and with the release of secret documents from the Home Office and MI5, this programme examines how this archetypal English aristocrat fell under Hitler’s spell and became one of his closest confidantes.
Professor Aubrey Manning embarks on a series of journeys in which he tries to solve mysteries hidden in the landscape of the British Isles. Unpicking clues in the geology, natural history, and archaeology, Aubrey reveals how the land has come to look the way it does. Episode 4 Secrets of the Flood – Aubrey is in the Solent, off the south coast of England. It’s known that people once lived in a landscape that is now covered by the sea but how did this area become flooded? In this episode Aubrey investigates a mystery that has puzzled experts for centuries.
The Mystery of the Black Death begins in September of 1665, when a tailor in the secluded English village of Eyam opened a flea infested shipment of fabric from London. In a matter of days, the tailor and much of the village were suffering the telltale signs of bubonic plague, the disease that, in the first five years since its arrival, had wiped out a third of the European population. To prevent the outbreak from spreading throughout the region, the whole town was quarantined, no one was allowed in or out. Outsiders assumed that the bacteria would simply wipe out the entire village. But they were wrong. Three hundred and fifty years later, Dr. Stephen O’Brien, a geneticist from the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., is delving into the reasons why some individuals managed to survive the excruciating Black Death while others were dying all around them. Following O’Brien as he takes DNA samples and investigates historical records and family archives, the film sheds light on the resistance to the plague, and reveals a stunning legacy that the plague survivors passed on to their descendents, a similar resistance to the modern day scourge of AIDS.
It was a time of great bitterness and hatred in Britain, a war that set father against son and brother against brother. The breakdown in relations between a Parliament with a strong purpose and a King who believed in his divine right to rule, set the scene for a series of brutal battles that were truly a struggle for the soul of a nation. The outcome of the English Civil War shaped the course of the nation’s history, and laid the foundations of the country as it is today. Episode Blood on Our Hands – England suffered, proportionately, greater losses than in the First World War. A newly free media stoked the fires of suspicion and religious hatred to push the nation, step by step, towards carnage. Blood on Our Hands explores the real reasons behind the English Civil War and brings to life through the personal testimony of everyday people the story of how the nation turned on itself. Brilliana, Lady Harley, under siege in her Herefordshire home, smuggles coded appeals for help to her teenage son in the army. Former journeyman tanner Sgt Wharton gets a taste for leadership only to die during his first battle. And humble wood turner, Nehemiah Wallington, one of a new breed of news junkies, watches the terrible human tragedy unfold.
Tony Robinson embarks on spectacular walks through some of Britain’s most historic landscapes in search of the richest stories from it’s past. Episode 1 Stonehenge – Tony embarks on another expedition through some of Britain’s most historic landscapes. He begins with a 45 mile walk across Wiltshire, from Avebury to Stonehenge, telling the story of the remarkable development that occurred in the latter days of the Neolithic era. His route over chalk downlands and Salisbury Plain takes him through one of the greatest concentrations of prehistoric sites in Europe.
For the better part of a millennium, Windsor Castle has been at the heart of British history the awesome fortress, family home, treasure trove and burial ground for the Royal dynasty who went on to take its name. But there is another side to the Castle that tourists never see. It is the real Windsor, a beloved home not only to the Royal family but to more than 400 people who live and work there year round. Windsor Castle A Royal Year provides a fascinating, insider’s look at this grand landmark, where crown and community live and work side by side. Episode 3The Ranger – The Ranger for the 15,000 acre Great Park of Windsor Castle is none other than Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Like the Castle, the grounds have a pageantry of their own. And nothing is grander than a Royal Wedding, as Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles celebrate their nuptials.
A successful portrait photographer pretty much has to be a serial seducer, charming each successive client into the belief that he (or she) only has eyes for them. But not all portrait photographers, one hopes, follow through quite so energetically as Antony Armstrong-Jones, cynosure of Swinging Sixties London and a byword among his friends for sexual appetite “If it moves, he’ll have it” was one of the comments recalled in Snowdon and Margaret Inside a Royal Marriage, an intriguingly candid account of the ill starred marriage between the Queen’s younger sister and the socialite photographer. Snowdon, the film made it clear, had top class credentials as a lover, charisma, looks, glamour and a sense of sexual adventure, but was hopelessly ill qualified to last the course as a husband. And, rather oddly, although it was almost entirely constructed from the memories of his friends and relatives, this film tilted the historical record back in Princess Margaret’s favour, suggesting (in contrast to most of the coverage at the time) that she was more the injured party than him.
For years, thousands of paintings owned by the British public have been hidden away and inaccessible, until now. Thanks to the work of the Your Paintings project, over 200,000 works in our national collections have been painstakingly uncovered, photographed and put online, some for the very first time, allowing art experts and amateur sleuths alike to make connections and discoveries that wouldn’t have been possible before. Alastair Sooke teams up with art detective Dr. Bendor Grosvenor to unearth some hidden gems and find out what the paintings say about British society.
Each half hour episode looks at a major fighting people or force and charts the reasons for their rise to dominance and subsequent fall. The show explores the motivations of ancient soldiers, as well as how they lived, fought, trained, died, and changed the world. It also uses battle re-enactments and computer graphics to demonstrate military strategy. This series from the Discovery Channel is especially good for the lesser known groups of warriors. Episode 11 The Vikings – Boats enable Vikings to plunder Europe. “In this year dire portents appeared over Northumbria and sorely frightened the people. They consisted of immense whirlwinds and flashes of lightening. And fiery dragons were seen flying in the air” A scribe records that in the year 793 marauders from the north crossed the sea to England and shattered the peace. Pagans in search of treasure they surprised the defenseless monastery of Lindisfarne. For Christian Europe the blackest hour of the dark ages was about to strike. The Vikings had come.
The history of Britain and the aspirations of her Christian communities can be traced in the glorious excesses of the cathedrals. From Norman grandeur to the modern interpretations found in Liverpool and Coventry, explore the changing styles of the cathedrals in our midst. A 5 part series that takes a looks at the ingenuity behind the construction of Britain’s most famous cathedrals, using CGI and reconstructions to describe the dramatic stories of riot, fire, war, murder, and flood that shaped the history of these impressive masterpieces. Fire at York – In 1829, non-conformist Jonathan Martin set fire to York Minster to protest against what he saw as the greed and complacency of the clergy. At the same time, antiquarian John Browne embarked on his journey to discover how the cathedral had been designed and built. This is the story of Martin and the trial that would lead to either execution or the asylum, and of Browne and his determination to crack the mason’s code that he believed lay embedded in the structure of the Minster
In Search of Shakespeare is a four part series exploring the life of the world’s greatest and most famous writer. It takes the form of a detective story, a documentary search, and a journey not the style of historical TV shows that use re-enactments and tableaux. There is no one dressed up as Will Shakespeare or Queen Elizabeth! Instead the Royal Shakespeare Company gives a group of Britain’s best young actors and actresses the chance to go on tje road and play in the places where his company played. Shot documentary style, on and off stage, the successors of Shakespeare’s company give us a magical glimpse into how it was done playing scenes from all Shakespeare’s great shows in Tudor Guildhalls, Royal Palaces like Hampton Court, and even in broad daylight. But the core of the series is a biography. The story of one Elizabethan, his life, family and friendships, his triumphs and disasters, his loves and his losses. Episode 1 A Time Of Revolution – Sets Shakespeare’s life in the early years of Elizabeth’s reign, at the beginning of Elizabeth’s Cultural Revolution. The age is marked by the battle of conscience and power, which will lead to religious and class struggle, and eventually to Civil War.
Rome’s legions met their match in the highlands of Scotland. At the archaeological dig of the Roman garrison at Vindolanda, countless artifacts help recreate the life of Roman armies, from their aqueducts to their slaughterhouse Narrated by James Woods. This is the amazing story of one of the most remarkable archaelogical finds of the Roman Empire. Archaeologists examine treasures of letters, lists and notes written on wooden tablets 2,000 years ago by Roman soldiers stationed in Britains northern frontier at their fort at Vindolanda.
Stardate presents and examines the most intriguing planets, asteroids, stars and astrological phenomena in precise detail with the help of scientists and experts. This award winning series is a reliable source for information and trivia about the galaxy and is used in some astronomy classes. Some of the programs funded by the US government and produced with NASA, give the viewers a better grasp on the concepts of space. Episode Stardate: Mysteries of Venus – As the Venus Express spacecraft approaches its destination this documentary examines this most intriguing of planets and help find the answers to why a planet the same size, age and of similar composition to Earth has become our almost exact opposite. Why is it so hot? Could Venus’s runaway greenhouse effect one day happen on Earth? Why does the entire surface of the planet seem to have been resurfaced in one go? And do the opaque clouds which surround Venus host an even greater mystery: alien life? Presenter Adam Hart-Davis reports from a tense mission control in Germany as the spacecraft is manouvered into orbit.
Presenter Mike Loades, an expert who trains people how to use medieval weapons, takes the viewer on a tour of medieval arms and armour, and demonstrates their central role in key events in British history. Learn about much more than the weapons themselves as the series draws in themes of technology, religion, geography and even music. Episode 2 The longbow – The incredible English victory at the Battle of Crecy (part of the Hundred Years War with France) would never have happened without the might of the longbow. Just a simple piece of wood, and yet it could be made into a deadly weapon. Mike Loades, series presenter, undertakes a number of experiments to establish how effective longbows would have been – how far could they shoot and what damage they could do-particularly against a French knight on horseback in full plate armour.
During World War II, in the summer of 1940, Winston Churchill faced a terrible dilemma. France had just surrendered and only the English Channel stood between the Nazis and Britain. Germany was poised to seize the entire French fleet, one of the biggest in the world. With these ships in his hands, Hitler’s threat to invade Britain could become a reality. This documentary tells the story of what Churchill did next, and why and how 1,300 French sailors died as a result in what the French still call their Pearl Harbor. This is the forgotten story of Churchill’s darkest decision: to sink the French Fleet.
This documentary tells the enthralling and emotional story of Andrew Wiles. A quiet English mathematician, he was drawn into maths by Fermat’s puzzle, but at Cambridge in the 1970s, it was considered a joke, so he set it aside. Then, in 1986, an extraordinary idea linked this irritating problem with one of the most profound ideas of modern mathematics the Taniyama Shimura Conjecture. When he heard, Wiles went after his childhood dream again. In June 1993 he reached his goal. At a three day lecture at Cambridge, he outlined a proof of Taniyama, and with it Fermat’s Last Theorem. Then disaster struck. His colleague, Dr Nick Katz, made a tiny request for clarification. It turned into a gaping hole in the proof. As Andrew struggled to repair the damage, pressure mounted for him to release the manuscript, to give up his dream.
In 1946 almost half a million German prisoners of war were still being held in Britain. Interviews, archive footage and photographs shed light on the experiences of the people of Oswaldtwistle, who were banned from fraternising with the enemy until 1946, a Lancashire town that offered the hand of friendship to the prisoners of war located near the town. The documentary is based largely on the book Enemies Become Friends by Pamela Howe Taylor.
From the dawn of civilization to the 20th century, A History of Britain re-animates familiar tales and illuminates overlooked aspects of England’s past. Hosted by Simon Schama, this series discards timelines and tiresome lineages for a lively look at the personalities and cultures that infuse British history. Epic themes and towering figures that transformed an island “at the edge of the world” into the greatest empire on earth. Episode 8 The British Wars – A chronicle of the English Civil War, revealing that behind the romantic stories of Cavaliers and Roundheads lies a terrible tale of tragedy and the death of innocents.
Battlefield Britain is about famous battles in the history of Great Britain. From Boudicca’s destructive rebellion against the Romans to the incredible feats of The Few who saw off the Luftwaffe, these battles all had wide reaching consequences and implications for the future of the British isles. Presented by father and son team Peter and Dan Snow. Peter explains the battleplans, Dan the perspective of the common soldier, sailors and airmen. The episodes also featured interviews with soldiers from both sides, re-enactments of the battles and computer generated scenes with bird eye views and blocks to show troop movement. Episode 6 Battle of the Boyne – The story of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 – the effects of which are still having consequences in everyday life in Ireland today.
Channel 4 Written and presented by Dr David Starkey, this is the compelling story of two of England’s most striking monarchs a brother and sister, tied by blood and affection, and torn apart by religion, power, and some of the bloodiest episodes in English history. Mary (who was to become England’s first reigning Queen since Matilda but who is best known to generations of British schoolchildren as Bloody Mary) was the first born child of Henry VIII. For 20 years she was heir to her adored father. Then came the birth of her little half brother Edward, and Mary found herself cast into the shadows, ignored by her father and declared illegitimate by Act of Parliament. Nonetheless she became very attached to the motherless boy, and he to her, declaring her his dearest sister.