The Making of Modern Britain

The Making of Modern Britain

2009, History  -   19 Comments
Ratings: 7.55/10 from 29 users.

The Making of Modern BritainAn 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.

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19 Comments / User Reviews

  1. kb

    you said the Americans are all from your great country. and were fat, and thieves, as well as other crap. You need to go back to school, first that's was hundreds of y ears ago and people change, if what you said was true, which it was not. Also, US citizens came from all, of the world, mainly Europe, and then china and Africa. Myself I am a mic, An Irish man, who all American first and Irish Second, which I might add that the Irish has been kicking England ass for centuries, also, those fat, criminals, kick your ass out of America, twice. Also, we save your ass and the rest of the world. We also, ARE THE ONLY remaining SUPER POWER, which you never were, and if we wanted to we could have ruled the world after WW2, as we were the only power w/ the Abomb, and there were plans to do just that, one plan was called Pax American, created by US generals, the other was thought up by good old Winnie Churchill, (who I love, more the Macarther and I hate Monty, b/c he is a loser). Churchill's plan was called Plan Unthinkable, which required the use of 300 atomic against the USSR more then half against airfields and military targets of such type. Also, you can say the ussr would have won the war w/o USA, however. the US provide 95 percent of all trucks and all tires, as well as uniforms, fuels, ammo, food stuffs, aircraft at the start, intelligence (which a lot came from Ultra at lechley park ;spelling;). Winnie was non stop begging the US to declare war against Germany (which did you call us beggars and yet we have never ask you for anything, unlike you). You are a lot better at killing people, and fighting wars, b/c that's all you guy ever do, the US has never done so on domestic soil, and for the most part only does go to war when attacked or ask to help b/c of horrific war crimes. Plus, UNLIKE YOU AND ALL YOUR GREEDY Europeans, the ONLY think that the United States of America asks of countries where we do battle, and our young hero pay the ultimate price, and die, is but one thing, We ONLY ASK for a place to bury our dead, who have fallen on foreign soil, helping others, as well as fighting a common enemy. Oh and that great nation you spoke of, could do nothing at all, other then ask for help and fight w/ help from others, never doing much at all, to fight Japan. The US fought EVERYWHERE and WON. Can you say that? Your government is not as good as you think, remember that kid that had terminal cancer, and even so, Johns Hopkins medical center said they would treat him w/ experimental drugs, and try, yet Your Government Forbid the parents from taking their child to America for treatment, even though they were going to pay for the treatment using their own money, yet the Brit government, over rid the rights of the parents to do what they feel is best for their son and under force of law restricted their action, which then the child died(he was most likely going to die anyway, yet a government that think they know what is best and deny the rights of the parents, is a horrible government b/c when do they stop, already, you can't get treatment after age 76 or something, bc 90% of medical cost happen in the last year of life, so since you guy have a socialist health care, they say it cost to much, so either pay out of pocket of die. You got a nice county. Also, the US is NATO, and w/o us there is a moderate high chance that ussr would have invaded parts of Europe after ww2, look at Ukraine, if we were not there to stop them, do you think you guys could, you had no nukes till 58 or so, and that was b/c we gave you the tech, you did build your own design, until the 90 when you rented the trident 2D from us replacing the Polaris that also came from use, for which is the only nukes you have now. Whatever,just remember you got your ass kick by a nation of leftover crap, twice as well as saved on a number of times.

  2. Swapnil Sathe

    'We protected democracy' says the imperialist whore of a nation

  3. jaberwokky

    This is a brilliantly informative series. Unfortunately the link provided above does not work so you'll have to look it up on youtube.

    There's also a prequel called "The history of modern Britain" which deals with the time span from where this series leaves off (end of WW2) up until modern times.

    Good stuff.

  4. dadwdaw

    :)) a bolder in the ocean full o sheeps and people with bad danture and not least where it rains all the time.Be proud of that.And americans you are the descendants of this ''great'' country.Only that the worse of england society left to america : thieves,beggars,scums,etc.English :fat and with bad danture,americans : fat and stupid.There you go :)

  5. Andy Ay Jay

    hahaha the narrator is mad as a hatter,lool. Love it!! kept me intrigued the whole way through. England till I die!!!!

    1. Sawly1969

      Well just finished the second
      episode and looking forward to the remainder...the years leading up to
      WWI are often, in the USA at least, summed up in a few sentences as
      "labor unrest and social reform" This series goes into great detail in
      exploring both those concepts in the UK. Well presented on the
      whole...wonderful series IMO...thanks for making it available to a
      content starved American

  6. kafkafil

    Andrew Marr should be ignored.

  7. Justin Auldphart

    Well just finished the second episode and looking forward to the remainder...the years leading up to WWI are often, in the USA at least, summed up in a few sentences as "labor unrest and social reform" This series goes into great detail in exploring both those concepts in the UK. Well presented on the whole...wonderful series IMO...thanks for making it available to a content starved American

  8. Noah Rachel Johnson

    I just watched "Bigger, Faster, Stronger" so I keep getting the urge to chant 'USA! USA!" whenever the United States is mentioned. I'm going to watch "Loose Change" when I finish to offset these side-effects.

  9. Irishkev

    i'm enjoying this one.

  10. John Christopher McDonald

    Fantastic documentary, very long, and full of stories. Exactly the kind of thing I want to watch before bed. :)

  11. Teddy Mcd

    Rule Britannia - Britannia, rules the waves!

    Not so much anymore but still a great country.

  12. Far Spam

    Britain is dead!

    Most of Modern Britain is owned by Arabs or Russians or stolen wealth and of course the Royals.

    People think that most money is hidden in Swiss bank accounts but in fact if you want to hide money you take it to Britain.

    However comparing Britain with the bunch of Nazis on the mainland (Includes the French, Italians, Dutch, Germans, Nordics...etc) there is no better place in the world to live!

    Its the dynamics and multiculturalism that make modern Britain such a great place to live. Even compared to the US.

    1. WiseGapist

      Excellent doc! A lot of good info.

      @Far Spam
      I agree with your opener, but the UK is a crumby place to live compared with a number of places in mainland Europe for so many reasons, but on your point in particular... It is not some multicultural paradise, but in fact, very socially segregated (no one heritage in particular to blame) with a government that seems to ignore the poor levels of integration. I am originally from Leicester, England's flag-ship cultural melting pot that was the first to enjoy a higher % of immigrant population than that of native Caucasians, and the amount racism I witnessed from both sides did no compliment to 'multi cultural Britain' - I'm not anti immigration, but pro integration...

      I left England two years ago to live in Holland, and despite having it's own racial issues, is a far safer, cleaner, more socially developed place to live than the UK.. Public transport is far more efficient, and cheaper, there is greater income equality, and from my experience a seemingly more politically aware public on the whole... And in the entire two years I haven't seen a single bar/street fight at the weekend, whereas in the UK it was an at least fortnightly occurrence.

      England clings to worthless tradition and misplaced nationalism, desperately trying to keep the public under the fog of its own historical grandeur as if that is the way we judge what makes a society currently great... But hey, go have a pint in the pub, watch the football, sing god save the Queen, **** out a Sunday roast whilst reading the Sun then catch Eastenders^^ I'd rather blow my brains out :P

    2. Far Spam

      Yes the roads are cleaner, the transport is better and seems to be safer. However so was Nazi Germany. The Dutch have a real problem with foreigners (apart from the English). In my opinion they are just plain racist and they hide behind "integration". They cling on to some socialist nationalist ideal. Sound familiar?

      You I guess will not see it but some things ive read and heard from the Dutch are borderline Nazism. Things you would never hear in the UK from the average person.

      The UK has a different dynamic when it comes to migrants. A Doctor or professor or anyone with any wealth escaping from war zones will not go to Holland but to the UK or US.

      Just remember when you see all those clean roads and expensive dykes, where are they getting the money from? What happens when the money runs out? Will it then be a safer place to live?

    3. WiseGapist

      Well tbh, the times I've heard right wingers, 'hide behind "integration"' have been very few and far between, it 'sounds familiar' because you have twisted my neutral remarks into what you believe is some common national socialist argument... If you actually read my original post I said no particular group was to blame, the Caucasian base did very little to gel with the new immigrant population and always met it with hostility, but that said, the grouping of those new communities didn't facilitate a comfortable mix. Don't try to paint me as a racist when you are warping my points out of context in lieu of a direct rebuttal.

      I find it laughable that you can see the UK through such rose tinted spectacles regarding the amount of right wing POV that circulate.. You obviously don't listen very hard to the average UK person when they talk about the 'f--kin pakkis takin our jobs' blah blah, as well as the way much of the low-grade mainstream media demonises immigration.

      It is strange that you've been party to so much 'borderline Nazi' views from the average Dutch people that it has allowed you to form a very definite opinion of their political stance, and yet, even living in the UK you are oblivious to racism/nationalism that is embedded in the British culture. I have lived in one of the UK's most multicultural cities and the racism from whites and immigrants was easy to find.

      "the UK has a different dynamic when it comes to migrants. A Doctor or professor or anyone with any wealth escaping from war zones will not go to Holland but to the UK or US." - If that were even accurate I don't know what point you're trying to make?

      "Just remember when you see all those clean roads and expensive dykes, where are they getting the money from? What happens when the money runs out? Will it then be a safer place to live?" - Should such a stupid remark be dignified with a response? - And its not just cleaner roads and higher levels of trust (yes they measure societal trust^), they also have better adult literacy (as well as better maths and literacy for 15yo) , lower teenage pregnancy, lower homicide, lower prison population, greater income equality, one of the lowest levels of teenage obesity in the world (and lower adult obesity), lower infant mortality, lower amounts of mental illness..... I could carry on^ - Also, you can say the Nazis had clean roads, but the Dutch aren't butchering Jews or invading Europe so I think we can ease off with the absurd comparisons :P

    4. Earthwinger

      I find it interesting how debates like this tend to polarize opinions. The funny thing is, I can't really identify with either of the views espoused. I don't have very strong feelings about other cultures, mostly I guess because, although I've travelled a little around Europe, I've never stayed long enough in any one place to really get under the skin of places or the people.

      As for England, I don't doubt that people such as you describe, exist, but the cultural references you mentioned, are quite alien to me and most of the people that I know. But then I consider myself fortunate to live in a beautiful corner of England, surrounded by rolling countryside that produces lots of organic food, a beautiful stretch of coastline, and forward thinking, progressive people. If I lived in the sort of place that you describe, I'd leave too. :D

      I don't really frequent pubs, I've no interest in football, I don't get misty eyed at the sound of the national anthem. I don't even own a tv set. And in the town that I live in, that's not so uncommon.

      I guess that people from the bigger cities would view my home town as being a bit of a backwater hippy place, but to me it's home, and it's very English. It's so English in fact, we tend to have lots of groups for pursuits like archery, trad folk music, and clog dancing. I can't say that I'm at all tempted to join in, but I am happy to watch, and I appreciate that people are keeping those sorts of traditions alive.

      Rather than blow my brains out, I think I'll stick around, enjoy walking with my dog, skating the country lanes on my longboards, and stopping off to rest for a while at my favourite vantage point over the valley, for tea and a bacon butty, weather permitting of course. ;)

    5. WiseGapist

      People such as yourself are a testament to the decent side of the UK population. I know my initial post made a lot of sweeping generalisations, but I think if there were more Brits with your outlook it would have been a nicer place to live!

    6. Guest

      Hey, a Midlander !