BBC, Discovery team up to tell ‘History of the World’

The BBC and Discovery Channel in the U.S. have announced plans for their latest epic coproduction: a new, eight-part series that aims to be 'the definitive account of human civilization.'
November 22, 2010

Coming on the heels of the announcement that BBC Worldwide and Discovery Communications have extended their coproduction agreement to 2014, the BBC and Discovery Channel in the U.S. have announced plans for a new, eight-part series, History of the World.

Set to debut on BBC One in 2012, the series will be narrated by British journalist and political commentator Andrew Marr, and there is no word yet on if an American narrator will be used for the U.S. airing. History of the World will combine Marr’s narration with dramatic reconstructions and CGI to provide what the BBC is calling ‘the definitive account of human civilization,’ spanning 20,000 years.

The series will be produced by Discovery Channel U.S., The Open University and BBC Worldwide. ‘It is an ideal project for our partners globally,’ said Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, in a statement. ‘It is through working with the likes of Discovery Channel, The Open University and BBC Worldwide that we can continue to produce projects with the scale and scope of History Of The World, maintaining the BBC’s reputation for the most ambitious and creative landmark factual programming and providing exceptional value for licence fee payers.’

According to the statement, events to be featured in the series will aim to ‘freeze time at decisive moments in history’ – moments such as Cleopatra’s encounter with an asp, Marco Polo’s trek along the Silk Road to China, the arrest of Marie Antoinette and the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo.

Executive producer for the BBC is Chris Granlund. Series producer is Kathryn Taylor. Discovery Channel’s EP is Susan Winslow, and the EP for The Open University is Catherine McCarthy. Jonathan Stamp is consultant for BBC Worldwide.

In addition to announcing the extension of the BBC/Discovery copro agreement last week, BBC Worldwide also announced that it was selling its stake in the Animal Planet and Liv channel brands, in keeping with the BBC Trust’s 2009 review of the Beeb’s commercial arm.

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