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The BBC unveils its WW1 centenary programming

The BBC unveils its WW1 centenary programming
Pippa Considine
16 October 2013

The BBC today announced its plans to mark the First World War centenary with the biggest pan-BBC season ever undertaken, featuring four years of programming and events spanning 2014-2018, echoing the timeframe of the war.

The season will begin in early 2014 with Britain’s Great War (BBC One), presented by Jeremy Paxman. This four-part documentary series, produced by the BBC with the Open University, will explore how Britain and the lives of British people were changed by the conflict.

There will be two major TV dramas on BBC One. The Ark will take viewers into the lives of the medics and their patients at a fictional field hospital behind the trenches; while The Passing Bells, by Tony Jordan, tells the story of WWI through the eyes of two very ordinary young men. On BBC Two, 37 Days explores the politics behind the build-up to war.

Director-General Tony Hall said: “This season is going to have a profound impact on the way we think about World War One.  On television, on radio and on digital, we’ll be exploring how this conflict, above all others, shaped our families, our communities, our world – and continues to influence us today’’

Controller, World War One Centenary, Adrian Van Klaveren continued: "With over 130 specially commissioned programmes and around 2,500 hours of programming...We want to provide audiences with a truly interactive and more personal story of the war, and introduce a range of digital formats and features that deepen understanding and challenge preconceptions.”

World War One Centenary programming, with production company

The Necessary War, presented by Sir Max Hastings, argues that Britain was right to enter the war, it was unavoidable and necessary. For BBC Two.
1x 60 Blakeway Productions
The Pity of War is a polemic by Niall Ferguson who argues that Britain's decision to enter the war was a tragic error. For BBC Two.
1x90 Chimerica Media
Gallipoli will present a fresh look at the British Empire’s most humiliating episode of the First World War, featuring an exclusive interview with Rupert Murdoch about his father’s role as the whistle-blower who told the world the truth about the botched campaign.
1 x 60, Blakeway Productions
 Long Shadow for BBC Two: historian David Reynolds will explore the conflict’s impact on politics, identity and national memory, building a new and powerful argument about the shadow cast by the Great War.
3x60 ClearStory
The World’s War: Historian David Olusoga will challenge people’s understanding of the conflict, telling the story of the war from the perspective of the hundreds of thousands of Indian, African and Asian troops and ancillaries who fought and died alongside Europeans.
2 x 60, BBC Productions
My Great War: In 1964 the BBC filmed hundreds of hours of interviews with the veterans of World War One – and the result was a 26-part landmark series, The Great War. This series only used a fraction of the interviews shot. My Great War is a new film based on this unseen archive, and tells, with the directness of living testimony, what it was like living and dying on the frontline. BBC Four Collections will also publish a selection of the original interview recordings in their entirety on BBC iPlayer.
1x60, BBC Productions, N Ireland
The Ark (BBC One) by Sarah Phelps will tell the story of frontline medics. Oona Chaplin, Hermione Norris and Kerry Fox will star as a dedicated team of doctors, nurses and women volunteers working together to help the casualties of war.
6 x 60, BBC Drama Productions
The Passing-Bells (BBC One), written by Tony Jordan, will tell the moving story of World War One through the eyes of two very ordinary young men.
5 x 30, Red Planet Pictures
War Poems will feature some of the UK's favourite actors reading the nation's most loved war poems, broadcast every night for a week on the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war.
BBC Drama Productions
Great War Diary for BBC Two sees 25 broadcasters from around the world join to produce a global history documentary event. 10 years in the making.
4x 60, LOOKS Film Production, in association with CTVC for the BBC and 25 broadcasting partners
37 Days (BBC Two) - the bewildering sequence of events that led to war are retold. Featuring Ian McDiarmid and Tim Pigott-Smith, the drama will tell the fascinating and complex behind-closed-doors story of the final weeks before the outbreak of World War One. 
3 x 60, Hardy Pictures
Our World War from BBC Three will explore the extraordinary bravery of young soldiers in a factual drama from the makers of Our War. Drawing on real stories of soldiers fighting 100 years ago it will use the visual techniques and imagery familiar in modern warfare – POV helmet camera footage, surveillance images and night vision – to immerse viewers in life on the front line.
3 x 60, BBC Productions
Teenage Tommies (BBC Two) will see Fergal Keane unearth stories of Britain’s boy soldiers and follow what happened to soldiers who were little more than children when plunged into the nightmare of the trenches.
1 x 60, BBC Productions, N. Ireland
The Story of Women in World War One, presented by Kate Adie.
1x60, BBC Productions
Royal Cousins at War on BBC Two tells the story of European royal relatives and how the war affected them and their relationships with each other.
2 x 60, Blakeway Productions
Pipers of The Trenches tells the stories of the pipers from Scottish regiments who played the pipes as their comrades went over the top of the trenches.
1 x 60 BBC Scotland
Tommy and Jerry's Camera is a catalogue of unofficial war photographs, taken by the soldiers themselves.
1x60 Testimony Films
To War
A report by Mark D'Arcy for BBC Parliament on the great parliamentary speeches and political manoeuvrings which led to the War.
BBC News Production
The Machine Gun And Skye’s Band Of Brothers for BBC Two.What awaited everyone who fought were weapons of devastatingly destructive power – none more so than the machine gun. Neil Oliver will examine the devastating effect of a weapon capable of firing 600 rounds a minute by focusing on a group of recruits in
1x60, BBC Productions, Scotland
The Poet who Loved the War for BBC Four, about Ivor Gurney, the musician and poet of great promise whose life was profoundly affected by his military service.
1x60 BBC Productions
Writers Of The Somme
(BBC Two) will tell the story of the war through the experiences of the writers and poets who took part.
1x60 BBC Productions, Bristol
Artists Of War
(BBC Four) presented by Andrew Graham Dixon will explore the life and work of Walter Sickert, David Bomberg and Paul Nash.
3 x 60, DNA
Horrible Histories
1 x 40, Lion, in association with Citrus
Emily's Army
A three-part drama series set during the war at the home front.
3 x 30, CBBC Productions
My Story
takes a mother and her daughter on a journey into the past, to see what it would be like to live 100 years ago.
1 x 15, BBC Productions, Scotland
Operation Ouch! Goes Back in Time
1 x 30 Maverick TV
World War One At Home (stories from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) will bring to life more than a thousand powerful stories from familiar neighbourhoods in an ambitious partnership between Imperial War Museums and the BBC. This unique broadcasting project will see 1,400 stories feature on BBC Local and Nations’ Radio and TV across the UK. These stories will also appear online to complement the broadcasts.

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