The Making of Modern Britain
An epic account of the events that shaped Britain, from the death of Queen Victoria to the end of the Second World War.
In the first of a six-part series, Andrew Marr revisits Britain at the dawn of the 20th century. He finds the country mourning the death of Queen Victoria; fighting an intractable war against the Boers in South Africa; enjoying the bawdy pleasures of music hall; and worrying about the physical and moral strength of the working class.
Britain basks in the heat of a long Edwardian summer, but tension and violence are never far below the surface. Women are attacked while campaigning for the vote, Ireland is divided over liberation from the British Empire, and dockers and miners strike for improved conditions and wages.
Britain gets its first taste of total war. Marr argues that no shock has ever hit these islands with quite the force of what became known as the Great War. It transformed the lives of the British people – most dramatically the millions who fought on the frontline but also those at home who were bereaved, bombed, uprooted and bankrupted.
In the 1920s, Imperial Britannia was sliding from view and a more modern Britain tried everything new and asked endless questions about how we should live our lives. A great new age of experiment arrived in politics, writing, art, sex and drugs.
For Andrew Marr, the story of Britain in the 1930s was one of betrayal, political extremism, unemployment and… hats. Bowlers, trilbies, top hats and flat caps were everywhere, as the country descended into chaos when the financial crash on Wall Street engulfed Britain. Solutions to the national crisis were offered by Britain’s most unlikely paramilitaries, the Greenshirts.
The final film in Andrew Marr’s epic six-part series is a vivid account of Britain in the Second World War. Marr’s story of ‘the people’s war’ begins with the defeat that came to define modern Britain’s national spirit: Dunkirk. In 1940, Britain stood alone against the might of the German war machine. Churchill produced the words that stirred the Blitz spirit, but a Nazi invasion seemed inevitable.
Watch the full documentary now (playlist – 6 hours)