A History of Britain
is quite one of the most extraordinary documentary series ever produced
and can proudly sit next to The Civil
War and The World at War as an example
of just how good television could be.
Schama's A History of Britain is a subjective look at the British
Isles from 3000 BC right up until now and it contains so much detail
it runs over 15 hour-long episodes. (The DVD boxset has another
couple of hours in its extra package.)
yet, Schama presents his view so well - and so entertainingly -
that time absolutely flies by and the haunting end credits and soundtrack
are on you faster than the Black Death.
the show was on TV the wait between episodes was interminable. Now,
with it on DVD, I was able to sit down in a couple of sittings and
swell the old brain with masses of images, facts, details and opinion
on the people of my heritage.
on the matter of opinion it is fair to say that Schama - a professor
of history at Columbia University - has his own view of how his
country unfolded and he is not afraid to state it.
was one occasion when I got really annoyed at his insistence that
the first part of British empire-building was 'evil' and I got quite
hot under the collar. Having looked at the extras I now see this
was all part of his plan to stir up the embers of opinion and show
people that history lives.
And Schama also doesn't hold back on the bloody and violent history
of the British Isles and there some pretty damn horrible descriptions
of how famous people died.
II had a red-hot poker plunged into him, while Thomas Beckett had
the top of his head removed with a sword and his brains scooped
out and smeared on the floor of Canterbury Cathedral.
series just has so many highlights that they are almost impossible
to list. I will say that, in general, I found the earlier history
more interesting than the later stages, although that is like saying
the last few chapters only get an A rather than an A+.
the most fascinating episode featured the Black Death, which wiped
out half of Britain's population and set in train massive social
changes that could see a family rise from peasant farmers to lords
within three generations.
video transfer is terrific and the sound is clear as a bell.
Schama's A History of Britain is a must-have for all those interested
in history and school teachers will find it an invaluable assistant
in bringing subjects to life.
From the Stone Age to the arrival of the Romans, Saxons, Vikings
and Christian missionaries.
The Norman Conquest of 1066, the battle of Hastings, the end of
Examination of the Plantagenets, who included Henry II, Richard
the Lionheart, Eleanor of Aquitaine.
England's rise to dominance in the isles is traced through its lengthy
and bloody wars against the Welsh, Scots and Irish. Edward I 'the
Longshanks' took on all and vanquished all but Robert the Bruce.
For six years the Black Death raged across Britain and when it had
passed it left a much changed place.
The beginning of Protestantism and its forceful usurption as the
religion of state.
Body of the Queen
Queen Elizabeth I versus Mary Queen of Scots and the birth of Britain.
The English Civil War and the execution of Charles I.
The age of the Puritans and Oliver Cromwell.
Emerging from the loathing the English and Scots had for each other
was a future based together on profit and interest.
Exploration and exploitation as Britain makes its mark on the world.
Britain comes close to its own revolution and the beginnings of
the romantics era.
and Her Sisters
Britain is transformed from an agricultural to an industrial society
and its effects are not all positive.
Empire of Good Intentions
Britain's 'second' attempt at empire has it as the world's greatest
power, although at what cost to its inhabitants.
Looking to the future through the past.