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The British

Season 1 2012

  • 2012-09-06T06:00:00+02:00 on Sky Atlantic (UK)
  • 45 mins
  • 5 hours, 15 mins
  • Documentary

Combining gripping drama, spectacular CGI and compelling commentary, The British is an ambitious and unmissable new series which tells the history of Britain and Ireland from the Roman invasion to the birth of TV and the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.

Spanning two thousand years, the series uncovers the surprising stories of the unsung heroes as well as the well-known icons of history. Some of the UK’s most recognizable names from the worlds of entertainment, politics, sport, science and history – including Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Terry Wogan, Jessie J, Russell Brand, Colin Jackson, Frank Lampard, Lord Robert Winston and Prof. Jeremy Black – share their unique insights on how thousands of years of British history have shaped the people and nation we are today.

7 episodes

1x01 Treasure Islands (54 BCE - 500 CE)

  • Series Premiere

    2012-09-06T06:00:00+02:00 — 45 mins

A history of the British Isles from ancient times to the present day, featuring re-enactments of major events and historic turning points. The series begins in 58 AD and reveals how the arrival of a 10,000-strong Roman army changed England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland for ever. The programme also explores the achievements of early Britons, including the construction of Stonehenge, and explores social structures that held sway before the invasion.

1x02 People Power (1066 - 1415)

  • 2012-09-13T06:00:00+02:00 — 45 mins

How the Norman Conquest in 1066 transformed Britain, as William the Conqueror sought to assert his power over the whole of England by dismantling the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy and crushing regional diversity. The programme explores the human cost of his campaign and the lasting legacy of the social structures established by the Normans, and explains how a spirit of resistance began to foment among the population. Dramatic reconstructions also reveal how the longbow was instrumental in Henry V's famous victory at the battle of Agincourt in 1415. With contributions by Tim Roth, Jeremy Irons, Micky Flanagan and Tracey Emin.

1x03 Revolution (1541 - 1641)

  • 2012-09-20T06:00:00+02:00 — 45 mins

How Britain changed during the reign of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs. The programme explores the battles that established England as one of the world's leading naval powers and delves into Henry VIII's feud with the Catholic Church, revealing how he tried to silence dissenting voices. Contributors including Helen Mirren and Ben Kingsley also discover how literature from the period sowed the seeds of revolution, and learn why a riot organised from a prison cell laid the foundations for civil war.

1x04 Dirty Money (1666 - 1820)

  • 2012-09-27T06:00:00+02:00 — 45 mins

How money drove the making of modern Britain, exploring its role in the rebuilding of London following the Great Fire of 1666. The programme investigates how underhanded deals brokered in coffee houses fuelled British prosperity, and exposes how the country profited from dubious practices, including the slave trade, the sex industry and global colonisation. It also explores those who rebelled against the status quo during the period, and discovers how the armed forces countered the threat posed by Napoleon Bonaparte. With contributions by Jeremy Irons, Frank Lampard and Terry Wogan.

1x05 Superpower (1770 - 1851)

  • 2012-10-04T06:00:00+02:00 — 45 mins

The expansion of Britain's empire through exploration and invention, as the Industrial Revolution transformed society and the economy - though the rise of mechanised factories was not welcomed by all. The programme also explores the colonisation of Australia and the advances in 19th-century technology that turned the Crimean War into one of the most brutal conflicts in military history. With contributions by Jessie J, Lily Cole and Dougray Scott.

1x06 Tale of Two Cities (1851 - 1891)

  • 2012-10-11T06:00:00+02:00 — 45 mins

The development of London during the Victorian era, as the city at the heart of the British empire rapidly expanded - and social divisions became increasingly pronounced. The programme explores the grandeur of the period, including the building of the Crystal Palace, as well as sharp rises in vice and crime that prompted outrage among reformers including Charles Dickens and Josephine Butler. There is also a look at how football became increasingly popular.

1x07 War and Peace (1891 - 1953)

  • 2012-10-18T06:00:00+02:00 — 45 mins

The documentary series concludes by telling the story of 20th-century Britain, including the many ways in which the nation was transformed by the two world wars. The programme explores the changing role of women through the decades, and examines some of the scientific and technological advances that had a significant impact on everyday life.