Living Proof

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companyOpen Mind
started17th May 1996
ended21st Jun 1996
last rpt22nd Oct 1998
4 school years
duration20 mins
subject 🏛️History
age rangeAge 7-11Age 7-9 & Age 9-11
languageenIn English

Living Proof is a Channel 4 schools TV series from the 1990s, covering history for primary school pupils.

A quiz show about history in which the presenter is Michael Fenton-Stevens and the contestants are everyone watching the TV from their classrooms.

The multiple-choice questions cover some background historical knowledge ("was the second world war in the 1960s, 1950s or 1940s?") but mainly focus on investigative techniques and evidence ("why are you very unlikely to be able to interview an eyewitness of Victorian times? Is it because they all spoke another language or they're nearly all dead?") and observation ("Only one of these is a real Tudor building, which is it?"). A photocopiable answer sheet was provided in the teacher's notes but pupils without were also able to use "just a bit of paper."

In the course of his lively and colourful quizzing Michael rides along a huge computer generated timeline of the centuries (the numbers 1-20, quite similar to the number line on writer/director Chris Ellis's almost contemporaneous series The Number Crew) to understand how periods fit together, and hears from historians or experts about their work looking at evidence, which all give rise to questions.

The programmes focus on local history investigation, so viewers are shown general trends and invited to find out whether things in their local area happened in that way or were different.

Titles & theme music

"Have you ever wanted to be a contestant on a TV quiz show?" asks the presenter's voice, "Well you are now," before the upbeat game show theme tune accompanies quick moving shots of the Channel 4 building in London alongside a 'studio pass' and the series logo give way to the presenter starting the programme in the entirely computer-generated studio.


# Title Broadcast
1. Britain in the Second World War #1996-05-17-00-00-0017 May 1996
2. Victorian Britain #1996-05-24-00-00-0024 May 1996
3. Life in Tudor Times #1996-06-07-00-00-007 Jun 1996
4. Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in Britain #1996-06-14-00-00-0014 Jun 1996
5. Roman Britain #1996-06-21-00-00-0021 Jun 1996


  • Summer 1996 - Fridays 11:40am, plus a back-to-back broadcast of the entire series for easy recording on the morning of Friday 21st June from 4am, including the first broadcast of the final episode.
  • Spring 1997 - Fridays 11:40am
  • Spring 1998 - Fridays 10:40am
  • Autumn 1998 - Thursdays 9:40am


Presenter Michael Fenton-Stevens
Writer Chris Ellis
Education Officers Peter Logue

Malcolm Ward

Set Designer Max Stewart
Design Assistant Graham Thompson
Graphic Designer David Raitt
Editors Chris Bezant

Sue Chambers
Michael Peatfield

Music Justin Nicholls
Directors Chris Ellis

Penny Lawrence
Colin Spector

Producer Roland Tongue
An Open Mind Production for Channel 4


Teacher's guide

A teacher's guide (£3.95 in 1997) gave descriptions and teaching suggestions for all of the programmes, plus photocopiable worksheets including answer sheets for all of the multiple choice questions given on screen.

A Local History Activity Pack (£29.95) included A3 posters of houses from different periods of history, a colourful timeline, a board game about the lives of people in different periods, black-and-white activity cards, photocopiable activity sheets and a teacher's book.

A book, Using Local History Sources by James Griffin and David Uddershaw, published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1994, was sold by Channel 4 to accompany the series (£10.99). Buy from Amazon

An interactive game showed film sequences from the historical periods used in the series and followed them up with new quiz questions. It was released on CD-ROM for both PC and Acorn, and on the soon-obsolete CDi format (£19/99 each)

And finally the whole unit of 5 programmes was released on video (VHS, £19.98).


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