BBC to mark World War One over four years

The BBC will air four years of documentary, drama, news, children's and arts programming beginning next year to mark the World War One Centenary. (Pictured: Adrian Van Klaveren, the BBC's World War One Centenary controller)
October 17, 2013

The BBC will mark World War One’s centenary with four years of programming across television, radio and digital media.

The season will begin in 2014 and wrap up in 2018, mirroring the time-frame of the war, and comprise more than 130 specially commissioned programs amounting to 2,500 hours encompassing documentary, drama, news coverage, children’s and arts programming.

The four part-documentary series Britain’s Great War, featuring presenter Jeremy Paxman, will kick-off the programming on BBC1 early next year. The series will explore how the lives of Britons where changed by the conflict.

“What we offer over the coming four years will be much more than a chronological historical record,” said Adrian Van Klaveren (pictured), the BBC’s controller for the World War One Centenary. “We are setting out to broaden people’s understanding of the war and to commemorate and remember those who died.”

Other doc highlights include The Necessary War with presenter Sir Max Hastings, and Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War – two BBC2 one-off specials that will examine the First World War from differing viewpoints.

Also on BBC2, the doc Gallipoli will feature an interview with media mogul Rupert Murdoch about his father’s role as a whistle-blower in that botched battle; Long Shadow finds historian David Reynolds examining the war’s lasting impact on identity and national memory; The World’s War looks at the war from the perspective of Indian, African and Asian troops; and My Great War is a new doc based on unseen archive material from the BBC’s 26-part, 1964 doc series The Great War.

Fergal Keane’s Teenage Tommies uncovers stories of Britain’s boy soldiers and Neil Oliver’s The Machine Gun and Skye’s Band of Brothers looks at the destructive power of the machine gun. Both docs will also air on BBC2.

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