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Landmark TV series added to the BBC’s World War One programming line-up

Posted  22 January 2014 in News  
By Kate Clements

The BBC has announced that it will be showing two of the most important series ever made about the First World War.

The Great War, comprising 26 episodes and first screened in 1964; and The First World War, based on the work of military historian Sir Hew Strachan and first shown in 2003, will both be shown to mark the centenary.

The First World War will transmit in early spring 2014, whilst The Great War will air in autumn 2014, both on BBC Four.

Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four, says:

“I am delighted to bring these two seminal series about the First World War to BBC Four as part of our commemorative season. ‘The Great War’ was produced to mark the war’s 50th anniversary, and was the first to feature veterans’ first-hand testimony, so I am immensely proud that BBC audiences will once again have the chance to watch what many regard as one of the greatest historical series ever made. Sir Hew Strachan’s 2003 series, ‘The First World War’, was celebrated for its breadth and originality, covering not just the Western Front, but many other theatres of a global conflict.  Together, the two series offer an extraordinary counterpoint – and panorama – of World War One. I am sure our viewers will find them a compelling addition to our overall coverage.”

Adrian Van Klaveren, Controller, World War One Centenary, says:

“The BBC’s World War One season aims to offer fresh and wide-ranging perspectives on World War One, not just through new commissions but also by offering another chance to see some of the most important programmes ever made about the war. These two series will play a vital part in helping people understand what happened during the war and how the story has been told in different ways over the decades.”

The BBC’s 1964 series The Great War was a co-production with The Imperial War Museum and featured first-hand testimony, something which was – at the time – ground-breaking.

Sir Hew Strachan is Chichele Professor of the History of War at All Souls College, Oxford. His series, The First World War, was based on his book and was first shown on Channel 4 in 2003.

Its thematic approach to the First World War, concentrating on its global spread, rather than simply chronicling the battles of the Western Front, drew great critical acclaim when first broadcast. It too, remains one of the most highly acclaimed television series ever made about the conflict.

Find out more about the BBC’s First World War Centenary plans on its World War One site.

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