Channel 5 has commissioned  eight new history series, spanning a range of key historical subjects, figures and buildings.

Lion TV has been commissioned to produce five of the series, with a particular focus on the Tudor period. Titles include Anne Boleyn: Arrest, Trial, Execution, Thomas Cromwell, Kensington: The Secret Palace, Inside Hampton Court: The Ultimate Royal Retreat and a third series of Inside the Tower of London. The production team have been granted special behind-the-scenes access to Kensington Palace, Hampton Court and the Tower of London to create the series.

Meanwhile, ITN Productions will produce three definitive and revisionist biographies of notable British historical figures in 3×120 minute programmes, respectively titled Nelson, Lawrence of Arabia and Brunel. Each film will explore their achievements and controversies, with experts and historians exploring and reappraising their characters.

Anne Boleyn: Arrest, Trial, Execution (3 x 60’) is an epic series  from Motion Content and Lion Television presented by historian Tracy Borman, which explores the downfall of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Tracking the twists and turns of the Tudor Court over 17 days in May 1536, the programme will document Anne’s demise from her arrest, through to her trial and execution. It will show how the architect of her destruction, Thomas Cromwell, conspired to bring charges of adultery, incest and treason against the Queen.

Also fronted by Tracy Borman, Thomas Cromwell (2 x 60’) pieces together the extraordinary rags-to-riches story of King Henry VIII’s first minister, recounting the knife-edge decisions, secret locations and hidden letters that led to his rise and fall.

Kensington: The Secret Palace is an observational documentary series that takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour of one of Britain’s most recognisable Royal homes. The 2 x 60’ series reveals the palace’s most intimate secrets, following its dedicated curators, guides, restorers and gardeners as they work to keep the estate pristine.

2 x 60’ documentary Inside Hampton Court: The Ultimate Royal Retreat is a new hybrid observational history documentary series with exclusive, behind the scenes access inside Hampton Court, the best-preserved Tudor palace in existence. The series delves into its amazing history, exploring hidden corridors and private rooms, and uncovering historic secrets.

Inside the Tower of London returns to Channel 5 with 4 x 60’ new episodes, combining modern-day observational sequences with remarkable stories from the Tower’s rich thousand-year history. It will include self-shot footage from the Yeoman Warden during lockdown, which was the first time the Tower had closed since World War II.

Nelson unlocks the secrets behind the Battle of Trafalgar’s famous Admiral. The feature-length programme uncovers Britain’s military successes and failures under Nelson, alongside the links to Britain’s slave trade.

Lawrence of Arabia tells the story of the World War I military leader who united the tribes of Arabia against the Turkish army. The programme will give insight into the enigmatic, troubled man whose actions changed the Middle East forever.

Over one hundred and fifty years on from the death of ‘the man who built Britain’, Brunel goes back in time to explore Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s greatest creations, including the world’s fastest railway, as well as the self-doubt, obsessiveness and troubled family life that underscored his early years.

“History is a key staple of our schedule and we’re becoming ever more adept at making historical subjects and key figures accessible to a broad audience, creating exciting event programming in the process.” Ben Frow, Director of Programmes, ViacomCBS Networks International said. “It’s testament to the strength of Channel 5’s history output that we have secured special access to a number of historic institutions, enabling us to keep our audience enthralled with all the secrets that lie behind closed doors.”

Anne Boleyn: Arrest, Trial, Execution, Inside Hampton Court: The Ultimate Royal Retreat, and Inside the Tower of London have been commissioned by Lucy Willis, Thomas Cromwell by Daniel Pearl, Kensington: The Secret Palace by Kit Morey and Nelson, Lawrence of Arabia and Brunel by Guy Davies for Channel 5.

Jon Creamer

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