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BBC World War I centenary season

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Title: BBC World War I centenary season  
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Subject: BBC history projects, Tommies (radio drama), The Crimson Field, BBC Television
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BBC World War I centenary season

Logo for the centenary season

The BBC World War I centenary season is the marking of the centenary of the First World War across the BBC. Programming started in 2014 and will last until 2018, corresponding to 100 years after the war.[1] The BBC season will include 130 newly commissioned radio and television programmes which will last over 2500 hours, including more than 600 hours of new content.[2][3][4] The programmes will be broadcast on over twenty BBC television and radio stations.


  • Overview 1
  • Programmes 2
    • Documentaries 2.1
    • Historical debate 2.2
    • Arts and music 2.3
    • Drama 2.4
    • Across the UK 2.5
    • Children 2.6
    • Special editions 2.7
  • References 3
  • External links 4


The First World War centenary season was announced on 16 October 2013 by the BBC.[2] Adrian Van Klaveren, the BBC World War I centenary controller called the project the "biggest and most ambitious pan-BBC project ever commissioned".[5] The series will feature a wide variety of programming that according to its producers is intended to present a more neutral and accurate picture of the war than the view commonly held by the public. In support of this goal, several programmes will explore lesser-known topics such as the experiences of troops from New Zealand and Australia in the Gallipoli Campaign and several others will be focused on presenting the impact that the war has had on the world today.[6] Other programmes will attempt to show the effect that the war had on the individuals involved in it and one documentary will show numerous veteran interviews that were filmed for the BBC documentary The Great War on the conflict's fiftieth anniversary in 1964 but were omitted from that programme.[3]

The series will also feature a number of live broadcasts on the 100th anniversaries of significant events during the war, beginning with a broadcast from Sarajevo, the site of assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, on 28 June 2014. Other event anniversaries that will likely have dedicated live broadcasts include the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 2016, the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 2016, and the Battle of Passchendaele on 31 July 2017. Plus, the annual Remembrance Sunday event at the Cenotaph.[6]

The programmes will be broadcast on over twenty different BBC television and radio stations including BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC Parliament, BBC News, BBC World News, BBC Alba, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Foyle, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and BBC Asian Network.



Programme Presenter Channel Description
Britain's Great War Jeremy Paxman BBC One Britain's Great War was co-produced with the Open University and presented by Jeremy Paxman. The series explores how Britain and its people were affected by the war.[7]
Teenage Tommies Fergal Keane BBC Two Fergal Keane discovers the stories of child soldiers.[7]
The Story of Women in World War One Kate Adie BBC Two The Story Of Women In World War One documents the accomplishments of women during the war.[7]
WW1 Uncut Dan Snow BBC iPlayer A series of short films offering a fresh perspective on some of the most fascinating aspects of WWI, shining a light on the real experience and answering key questions.
Royal Cousins at War N/A BBC Two Royal Cousins At War consists of two parts, each lasting 60 minutes. The first part looks at the tensions between Queen Victoria's family members. The second part looks at how the European royal families contributed to the war. It will air on BBC Two and was produced by Blakeway Productions.[7]
Pipers of the Trenches N/A BBC Two Pipers Of The Trenches is a 60-minute documentary.[7]
The Machine Gun & Skye's Band of Brothers Neil Oliver BBC Two Presented by Neil Oliver, the 60 minute documentary describes the Maxim gun.[7]
My Great War N/A BBC Two This 60 minute documentary is based on interviews conducted 50 years ago for The Great War.[7]
Gallipoli N/A BBC Two Gallipoli will focus on the Gallipoli Campaign which took place in the Ottoman Empire. The production company for this 60 minute documentary is Blakeway Productions.[7]
The World's War David Olusoga BBC Two David Olusoga, a historian and film-maker, provides the perspective of Indian, African and Asian troops. The two part series will broadcast on BBC Two.[7]
World War One's Forgotten Photographs N/A BBC Four Testimony Films made this hour-long documentary for BBC Four. Photographs which were taken by British and German soldiers will have their stories revealed.[7]
Forgotten Heroes – Indian Army in the Great War N/A BBC Radio 2 BBC Radio 2 tells the story of men from the British Indian Army through their letters.[7]
Keep the Home Fires Burning N/A BBC Radio 2 This 60 documentary on BBC Radio 2 is about Ivor Novello and Keep the Home Fires Burning, the war song he composed in 1914.[7]
1914 – Day by Day Margaret MacMillan BBC Radio 4 Margaret MacMillan will present daily from June to August 2014. Created by Somethin' Else, it is split into 42 parts with each one lasting four minutes for BBC Radio 4.[7]
How Britain Went to War Peter Hennessy BBC Radio 4 Peter Hennessy describes how Britain planned the war on BBC Radio 4.[7]
Month of Madness Christopher Clark BBC Radio 4 Christopher Clark explains the reasons for the war from the perspective of Sarajevo, Saint Petersburg, Berlin, Paris and London. Each part of the five-part series will run for 15 minutes and is produced by Blakeway Productions.[7]
Voices of the First World War N/A BBC Radio 4 Voices Of The First World War will be co-produced by Imperial War Museums and made for BBC Radio 4. The series describes what happened according to those who were fighting.[7]
Real Time World War One on the Jeremy Vine Show Jeremy Vine BBC Radio 2 Real Time World War One sees Jeremy Vine present events as they unfolded on BBC Radio 2. Unique Productions produced 15 15-minute parts.[7]
The War that Changed the World Amanda Vickery BBC World Service
BBC Radio 3
Amanda Vickery presents the series which sees BBC World Service, BBC Radio 3 and the British Council partner to show the impact of the war on the different countries that took part.[7]
India's Forgotten War Anita Rani BBC World Service Anita Rani tells us about India's response to the war in this documentary.[7]
I Don't Remember the War N/A BBC World Service In this series on the BBC World Service, writers aged under 36 explore what their ancestors did during the war.[7]
Our World War N/A BBC Three This series is based on what people have told us.[7]

Historical debate

Programme Channel Description
The Pity of War BBC Two Niall Ferguson argues that Britain should have stayed out of war in this 90 minute debate for BBC Two.[8]
The Necessary War BBC Two Max Hastings argues in The Necessary War that Britain was right to enter the war in this 60 minute debate for BBC Two.[8]
To War BBC Parliament Mark D’Arcy describes the Parliamentary speeches and political actions that lead to Britain fighting in the war on BBC Parliament.[8]
Long Shadow BBC Two David Reynolds goes over the legacy of the war. The three-part series was produced by ClearStory for BBC Two.[8]
Rethinking the Culture of World War One BBC Radio 3 In Cradle of Jazz Alyn Shipton tells us about the birth of jazz as a result of African-American troops being sent to America and Europe with their music.
Woman's Hour BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour shows how the war affected women.[8]
The Battle for the Meaning of World War One BBC Radio 4 The Battle for the Meaning of World War One questions which version of the war we commemorate.[8]

Arts and music

The following Arts & Music programmes will be shown: Artists of War, Writers of the Somme, The Great War – An Elegy: A Culture Show Special, The Poet who Loved the War: Ivor Gurney, 1914–1918 – The Cultural Front, Music on the Brink, The Ballads of the Great War, Live in Concert – The Vienna Philharmonic in Sarajevo, A Soldier and a Maker – Ivor Gurney on Radio 3, Music in the Great War and Soldier Songs.[9]


The following drama programmes will be broadcast: The Crimson Field, The Passing-Bells, War Poems, Great War Diaries, 37 Days, Our World War, Oh, What a Lovely War, All is Calm – The Christmas Truce, War Horse, Home Front and Tommies.[10]

Across the UK

The following Across the UK programmes will be broadcast: Ireland's Great War, My Great-Granddad's Great War, With Love from the Front, The Man who Shot the Great War, Our Place in the War, And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, Ballad of the Unknown Soldier, The Photograph/An Dealbh, Diary of World War One, Eòrpa – HMS Timbertown, The Handsome Lads/Na Gillean Grinn, The Battlefield/Sìnt' Sa Bhlàr, The School That Went to War, Shinty Heroes/Curaidhean Na Camanachd, Weekly War Briefing/Seachdain Sa Chogadh, Small Hands in a Big War, The Writers' Propaganda Bureau, Welsh Towns at War, Cymry 24, The Welsh and World War One/Cymry’r Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf, The Greatest Welshman Never Heard Of, The Great War Live, Wales and the Great War Today, The Man they Couldn't Kill – Frank Richards and the Great War and Stiwdio.[11]


Programme Channel Description
Horrible Histories CBBC A 40-minute episode of Horrible Histories describes how Girl Guides passed secret information, the war trenches and the football match during the Christmas truce.[2][12]
Emily's Army CBBC Emily's Army is a three-part series set during the war.[12]
My Story CBeebies Nicky Campbell presents this 15-minute special which compares the past with the present.[12]
Operation Ouch! Goes Back in Time CBBC A special episode of Operation Ouch! shows what medicine was like during the war.[12]

Special editions

Programme Channel Description
The Antiques Roadshow BBC One Two episodes of Antiques Roadshow will mark the 2014 centenary on BBC One.[13]
Countryfile BBC One A special Remembrance Sunday edition of Countryfile[14]
Songs Of Praise BBC One Two episodes of Songs of Praise filmed in Belgium and France will mark the centenary on BBC One. The first one, The Shadow of War, will broadcast in August 2014 and will be presented by Bill Turnbull. The second episode, War and Peace, is about the carols which were popular during the war.[13]
The Why Factor BBC World Service Mike Williams looks at sacrifice and memorialisation in a special episode of The Why Factor.[13]
Great Continental Railway Journeys - The Railway War BBC Two Michael Portillo uncovers World War One's railway story, 100 years on. Each episode will uncover how the entire conflict, from start to finish, was a railway war: from the very earliest military planning prior to the declaration of war until the signing of the armistice in a railway carriage in Compiègne.[15]
Casualty Entrenched BBC One Rita is promoted to Senior Staff Nurse. Mac attends a war memorial service. A football fan riot starts and a young boy is caught up in the fight. A flare is set off in the ED and smoke alarms wail. Matthew protects everyone from the blast and Lofty saves the young boy's life by dragging him out of cubicles. Dylan appears back in ED and treats the boy, who later dies. Big Mac as he is having trouble dealing with Jeff's death and a transfer back to ED is suggested.


  1. ^ Conlan, Tara (16 October 2013). "BBC to mark first world war centenary with biggest TV season to date". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "BBC reveals 2,500-hour World War I season". BBC News. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Furness, Hannah (17 October 2013). "BBC to show unseen interviews revealing First World War veterans' feelings". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Furness, Hannah (16 October 2013). "BBC announces 2,500 hours of First World War programmes". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC". BBC. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Burrell, Ian (2013-10-13). "WW1 beyond the mud and trenches: BBC’s plans for the centenary of World War One". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC – Documentaries". BBC. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC – Historical Debate & Discussion". BBC. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC – Arts & Music". BBC. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC – Drama". BBC. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC – Across the UK". BBC. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC – Children's & Schools". BBC. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c "Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC – Special Editions". BBC. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "BBC One - Countryfile, World War One special". BBC. 9 November 2014. 
  15. ^ Middleton, Richard (26 February 2014). "BBC lines up wartime rail doc". C21 Media. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 

External links

  • Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC
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