Category: History

25
Sep

The Story of China with Michael Wood

BBC Two’s new landmark documentary series, The Story of China (6×60), written and presented by historian Michael Wood, explores the history of the world’s oldest continuous state, from the ancient past to the present day.

Home to over a billion people, China is the new superpower, a country we all want to understand now, and Wood argues that to do so we have to look at its history. Travelling across the country he explores the landscapes, peoples, stories and cultures that have helped create China’s distinctive character and genius over more than four thousand years.

Journeying along the Silk Route, down the Grand Canal, and across the plain of the Yellow River, where Chinese civilisation began, Wood meets people from all walks of life, visiting China’s most evocative landscapes and exploring ancient cities like Xian, Nanjing and Hangzhou.

He’ll trace some of the great moments in Chinese history – from their extraordinary voyages of exploration before Columbus, to amazing scientific inventions before the European Renaissance: he’ll even show that the Chinese invented football!

A grand sweep narrative, full of big ideas and unexpected surprises, the series shows how the Chinese created their own distinctive vision of the world: a vision that is still alive in the 21st century and indeed, Wood argues, is the real motor behind the incredible and growing success of China today.

 

26
Sep

The Story of India

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Michael Wood’s epic journey to uncover the fabulous sights and sounds, the dazzling achievements and the dramatic history of the world’s oldest, richest and most influential civilisation.

From the deserts of Turkmenistan to the Khyber Pass, from war torn Iraq to the palm fringed shores of Kerala, Michael Wood journeys across the Indian subcontinent and beyond to discover a land whose history is almost unimaginably rich and colourful.

When Marco Polo visited India in the thirteenth century, he described the country as ‘the richest province in the world… a land of wonders’. His observation is no less true today.

Everything about India is older, bigger, more colourful, more diverse and more intriguing than anywhere else.

The world’s largest democracy, a nuclear power and a rising economic giant, India is also the world’s most ancient surviving civilization, with unbroken continuity stretching back into prehistory

PRAISE FOR SERIES

“One of the best TV documentaries ever made”
The New York Times

(The story of India with) “the knowledgeable,enthusiastic and eternally boyish Michael Wood…this one stands out as a superior product”
The Daily Mail

“Michael Wood loves India. When he starts to tell you about its 10,000-year history, the excitement and passion in his voice is undeniable.”
The Daily Mirror

“Still the gold standard”
The Wall Street Journal

Winner – Accolade Award of Excellence, TV Mini-series
Winner – Accolade Honorable Mention, Cinematography
Winner – Accolade Honorable Mention, Editing

TRANSMISSION,  AND AVAILABILITY

6 X 60 mins for BBC 2/PBS. Producer: Rebecca Dobbs Camera/director: Jeremy Jeffs

August 2008. Video available from Amazon,

Book available here

Download the music

Watch the trailer

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07
Aug

Gilbert White: The Nature Man

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A delightful, visually hypnotic biography of an 18th century country curate.  With just one book, “The Natural History Of Selborne,” Gilbert White encouraged generations to appreciate nature in a different, more profound way.  With biographer, Richard Mabey, Michael Wood travels through White’s world, from the bucolic landscape of Hampshire to the grand intellectual societies of London and shows how White created his gentle, ecological revolution.

COMMISSION AND CREW

1 X 60 mins for BBC 4 as part a season focusing on the 18th Century.

Director Producer: Rebecca Dobbs

TRANSMISSION AND AVAILABILITY

BBC4 28th June 2006. Video download available from Vimeo

06
Aug

Shakespeare’s Mother: The Secret Life of a Tudor Woman

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In Shakespeare’s Mother: The Secret Life of a Tudor Woman, Michael Wood tells the extraordinary story of an ordinary woman in a time of revolution. Born under Henry VIII, Mary Arden is the daughter of a Warwickshire farmer, but she marries into a new life in the rising Tudor middle class in Stratford upon Avon. There she has eight children, three of whom die young. Her husband becomes mayor but is  bankrupted by his shady business dealings. Faced with financial ruin, religious persecution, and power politics, the family is the glue that keeps them together until they are rescued by Mary’s  successful eldest son – William Shakespeare!

Using local documents and government archives, wills and inventories, and  even a report from an Elizabethan informer, Michael Wood reconstructs Mary’s story: the youngest of  eight sisters, who married an illiterate but ambitious glover John Shakespeare. John rose in the world to become a well-off middle class entrepreneur, and finally mayor of Stratford, before his shady business activities brought their world crashing down and bankrupted the family. It would be Mary’s eldest son who restored the family’s fortunes with the money from his box office hits.

The film also looks at women’s work, and at the role a Tudor mother played in the raising and education of her children. Could she read and write? Did she teach her kids to read?  What part might she have had in shaping  her son’s creative imagination? Mary’s story is dramatic, with its tales of bankruptcy, family feuds, political plots and  religious persecution.  Its the glittering Tudor world viewed from below, from a small provincial town:  a window onto an age of fantastic wealth, riches and cultural achievement, through whose storms Mary steered her family, in the process raising the world’s most famous poet.

PRAISE FOR PROGRAMME

“A fascinating portrait”

The Sunday Times

“A pleasureable odyssey” 

The Telegraph

“An entertaining way of looking at an era that has us more than ever in it’s thrall”

The Guardian

TRANSMISSION,  AND AVAILABILITY

1 X 60 mins for BBC 4. Producer: Rebecca Dobbs Writer and Presenter: Michael Wood

9pm 12th February 2015

Watch the Programme on Vimeo

Visit the site →

29
Jul

Christina: A Medieval Woman

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Michael Wood presents a fascinating portrait of ordinary people living through extraordinary times, tracing the life of a real-life peasant of 14th century Hertfordshire.

She wasn’t a famous person, or of noble blood, yet Christina’s story is important in understanding our own roots.

In this time of war, famine, floods, climate change and the Black Death, which would claim the lives of half the population, are the beginnings of the end of serfdom, the growth of individual freedom and the start of a market economy.

COMMISSION AND CREW

1 x 60 mins BBC4. Producer and Director: Rebecca Dobbs  Editor: Gerry Branigan. Composer: Howard Davidson

TRANSMISSION AND AVAILABILITY

First Broadcast on BBC4 5th May 2008. Video download available from Vimeo

 

21
Jul

Comrades in Arms

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The Second World War is re-examined through the eyes of a group of gay servicemen and servicewomen, whose experiences range from ENSA-style entertainment to the River Kwai prison camp. Personal reminiscences, archive material and staged recreations of gay romances shot in the style of a 1940s black and white movies are combined in a humorous reclamation of a hitherto unrecorded history.

 

COMMISSION AND CREW

1 x 48 mins BBC4. Director: Stuart Marshall, Producer: Rebecca Dobbs

TRANSMISSION AND AVAILABILITY

First Broadcast on Channel 4 1990. Video download will soon be available from Vimeo

 

 

21
Jul

The Battle for Malta

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Caught in a struggle between Britain and Germany to control the Mediterranean, Malta became the most bombed place on Earth. Beyond unimaginable austerity, the island was close to starvation by the summer of 1942, and the magnitude of the attacks reflected the importance of its strategic position. Like ants, the Maltese were forced to move by their thousands into man made caves and tunnels carved in island’s limestone. Historian James Holland presents a fresh analysis of this vicious battle and argues that Malta’s offensive role has been underplayed.

COMMISSION AND CREW

1 X 60 mins for BBC 2. Director Producer: Aaron Young

TRANSMISSION AND AVAILABILITY

BBC2 7th Jan 2013. Video download available from Vimeo

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21
Jul

Battle of Britain: The Real Story

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James Holland explores the Battle of Britain from the lesser-known German POV. He focuses on the tactics, technology and intelligence available to both nations, and examines how they decided to use their resources. He also gains access to first hand testimonies from German pilots, and diaries and documents that reveal a previously unknown account of this confrontation.

COMMISSION AND CREW

1 X 60 mins for BBC 2. Director Producer: Aaron Young

TRANSMISSION AND AVAILABILITY

First transmitted 22nd Sept BBC 2010

Video download will soon be available from Vimeo

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21
Jul

Hitler’s Search for the Holy Grail

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The true story behind Indiana Jones: How Hitler and the Nazis went on a quest to find the power objects from history and prove the myths of Atlantis, the Grail and an ancient German master race. Michael Wood explains where these ideas came from, shows us how history was used as a political tool and the way top scholars collaborated to provide the ideas used by the SS as a justification for the genocide that followed, ending with chilling footage from the 1946 trial of Wolfram Sievers, the Ahnenerbe’s Chief Administrator. For the first time we see the Nazis traveling to the ends of the earth; Archaeological digs in Persia, Scientific Expeditions to Antarctica and Venezuela and skull measuring in Tibet.

COMMISSION AND CREW

1 X 78 mins for Channel 4. Director: Kevin Sim, Producer: Rebecca Dobbs

TRANSMISSION AND AVAILABILITY

Channel 4 1999. Video download will be available soon from Vimeo

21
Jul

Dam Busters: The Race to Smash the German Dams

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James Holland presents a fresh analysis into the legendary 1943 Dam Busters Raid: A low-level night mission that took nineteen Lancaster bombers deep into the heart of enemy territory to destroy German dams with a brand new weapon – the bouncing bomb.

Of the many extraordinary things about the Dams raid, the biggest is that it almost never happened. When finally green lit, it set off an incredible race against time to form and train a new squadron. Their mission: to deliver a weapon that didn’t yet exist. Unprecedented by any scale, and even more remarkable because the crews were not the experienced elite that legend sometimes suggests, Holland examines why this truly is the greatest raid of all time, and why its true impact has been greatly underestimated.

COMMISSION AND CREW

1X 60 mins for BBC 2. Director Producer: Aaron Young

“Enlightening” – Daily Mail

“Eloquent” – Sunday Telegraph

TRANSMISSION AND AVAILABILITY

BBC2 8th Nov 2011. Video download available from Vimeo

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