Twentieth Century History
Twentieth Century History is a BBC schools TV series from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, covering modern history for secondary school pupils.
A long-lasting contemporary history documentary series, selecting a dozen or so key periods in the twentieth century (to date) that could be usefully illustrated by television, and covering them using archive film and animated graphics.
The topics were deliberately selected so they would last without needing to be re-made again and they certainly did last far longer than the 3-4 year lifespan of a typical schools programme. After 7 years of constant broadcasts a couple of episodes were updated, and the series then continued unabated for another 5 years of broadcasts, incorporated into the parents series History File.
Then at the very end of the twentieth century in 1999 when secondary schools programmes moved to overnight transmissions, an extra episode was needed to flesh out a unit on The First World War to a full two hours, and the Twentieth Century History episode Make Germany Pay was resurrected to fill the gap. This was then repeated for another 11 years.
So the series, and in particular the Make Germany Pay episode, was used by several generations of schoolchildren over a significant chunk of the twentieth century, as well as the twenty-first!
|1.||Make Germany Pay||21 Sep 1977|
|2.||Boom and Bust||5 Oct 1977|
|3.||Hitler's Germany 1933-36||19 Oct 1977|
|4.||Roosevelt and the New Deal||9 Nov 1977|
|5.||Stalin and the Modernisation of Russia||23 Nov 1977*|
|6.||Why Appeasement?||11 Jan 1978|
|7.||Britain Alone||25 Jan 1978|
|8.||Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima||8 Feb 1978|
|9.||The Road to Berlin||22 Feb 1978|
|10.||India - The Brightest Jewel||8 Mar 1978|
|11.||Cold War Confrontation||19 Apr 1978|
|12.||Mr Kennedy and Mr Khrushchev||3 May 1978|
|13.||One Man's Revolution||17 May 1978|
|14.||Israel and the Arab States||7 Jun 1978|
* - Stalin and the Modernisation of Russia was first shown in a Preview programme at 2:30pm on Friday 27th May 1977.
History File episodes
|15.||The Third World||2 Dec 1985|
|16.||China Since Mao||27 Jan 1986|
|17.||The Arabs and Israel Since 1947||3 Feb 1986|
In 1985 History File was launched as a parent series for BBC TV's secondary school history series, incorporating both Twentieth Century History and British Social History, alongside some new programmes.
At this point the original run of 14 Twentieth Century History programmes (enough to be broadcast fortnightly across the 28 weeks of the schools broadcasting year) was slightly revised into a new set of 15 episodes.
India - The Brightest Jewel, which covered that country in the 1930s and 40s leading up to independence and partition, was replaced by a new episode on The Third World as the 10th episode in the series, looking at the background to problems of third world countries generally.
Israel and the Arab States was replaced by a new programme on The Arabs and Israel Since 1947 as the final episode in the series.
And an additional episode on China Since Mao was added as the 14th episode in the series, to accompany the existing episode on One Man's Revolution, which continued to be repeated alongside it. However due to cultural developments the new episode used the pinyin spelling system and referred to Mao Zedong, whereas the preceding programme in the same series (still repeated unchanged) used the Wade-Giles form and gave a biography of Mao Tse-tung.
These additions and replacements made the series up to 15 episodes, enough to run weekly through one full schools broadcasting term and the first half of the next.
Titles and Theme Music
Isolated symbols, images, flags and photographs of twentieth century politics and culture appear in brief flashes to a timpani beat, including a poppy, the dollar symbol and Mickey Mouse. The stylised number 20 and the programme title appear in front of archive film clips.
Watch a clip on YouTube.
The music is the beginning of the first movement ('Moderato con moto') of the Violin Concerto, Op. 15 by Benjamin Britten
Listen a clip on YouTube.
|Commentary by||John Tidmarsh|
|Script by||Tony Howarth (episodes 1, 3 & 6)|
John O'Keeffe (episodes 2 & 4)
|Script consultant||Bob Gunn (episodes 9 & 14-17)|
|Historical Adviser||Alistair Parker (episode 1)|
Esmond Wright (episodes 2, 4, & 8)
|Film research||Barbara Saxon|
James Barker (episodes 15-17)
|Film editor||Robert Hargreaves (episodes 1-5 & 7),|
|Videotape editor||Derek Orman|
|Graphic design||Ray Ogden (episodes 1-9, 11-17)|
Freddie Shakell (episode 10)
|Graphics||George Hayter (episodes 15-17)|
|Production team||Jannie Purdom (episodes 15-17),|
|Producer||John Chapple (episodes 2, 3, 5, 6 & 11-13)|
|Series editor||Paul Mitchell|
Each year's broadcasts were accompanied by a substantial booklet of teachers' notes, containing lengthy summaries of each episode and some suggestions for preparation and follow-up questions to consider. There was also a section of pupils' worksheets.
The series was also issued on video - principally as a set of 2 video packs covering the entire post-1985 series and accompanied by a reprinted set of the schools' teachers' notes. The episodes of the series were also distributed in the United States as educational films.
A separate textbook was issued alongside the original broadcasts of the series, written by series writer Tony Howarth. The book was recommended in the teachers' notes for background reading and available n paperback and hardback, but was published by Longman rather than the BBC: Twentieth Century History: The World Since 1900. A second edition updated by Josh Brooman was published in 1987. Buy from Amazon
- 1977-78 (autumn, spring & summer) - Wednesdays 9:15am fortnightly, repeated alternate Tuesdays 10:25am, on BBC1
- 1978-79 (autumn, spring & summer) - Wednesdays 9:38am fortnightly, repeated alternate Mondays 2:18pm, on BBC1
- 1979-80 (autumn, spring & summer) - Thursdays 9am fortnightly, repeated alternate Wednesdays 2:18pm, on BBC1
- 1980-81 (autumn, spring & summer) - Thursdays 9am fortnightly, repeated alternate Wednesdays 2:18pm, on BBC1
- 1981-82 (autumn, spring & summer) - Wednesdays 2:18pm fortnightly, repeated alternate Mondays 10:38am, on BBC1
- 1982-83 (autumn, spring & summer) - Wednesdays 2:18pm fortnightly, repeated alternate Mondays 10:38am, on BBC1
- 1983-84 (autumn, spring & summer) - Mondays 10:38am fortnightly, repeated alternate Tuesdays 9:26am, on BBC2
- 1984-85 (autumn, spring & summer) - Tuesdays 9:26am fortnightly, on BBC2
- 1985-86 (autumn & start of spring) - Mondays 10:38am, repeated Thursdays 2:40pm, on BBC2, as part of History File
- 1986-87 (spring & start of summer) - Thursdays 10:38am, on BBC2, as part of History File
- 1987-88 (autumn & start of spring) - Mondays 12:08pm, on BBC2, as part of History File
- 1988-89 (end of autumn & spring) - Mondays 12:15pm, on BBC2, as part of History File
- 1989-90 (spring & summer) - Mondays 12:15pm, on BBC2, as part of History File
- Make Germany Pay subsequently shown overnight on The Learning Zone as part of History File in
- 1999-2000 - 12th October 1999
- 2000-01 - 23rd November 2000
- 2001-02 - 17th January 2002
- 2002-03 - 18th February 2003
- 2003-04 - 29th January 2004
- 2004-05 - 21st October 2004
- 2005-06 - 26th October 2005
- 2006-07 - 14th September 2006
- 2007-08 - 10th October 2007
- 2010-11 - 10th November 2010
- 2011-12 - 9th November 2011
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