It is hard to think of another great BBC sitcom blessed by such a strong pedigree as that of Blackadder. Running over four series, spanning 1983 to 1989 – plus the occasional special – the creators and stars of this comic masterpiece read like a roll call of late-20th-century British screen talent.
British television makes great history programmes – but not enough of them, claimed the experts at a lively RTS early evening event chaired by Sir Tony Robinson in early October.
Joining Tony on the panel were:
Leanne Klein, Chief Executive Officer, Wall to Wall
Suzannah Lipscomb, Historian/Presenter
Tom McDonald, Head of Natural History and Specialist Factual Commissioning, BBC
David Olusoga, Historian/Presenter
“Genres go through cycles and I feel a lack of confidence about the genre at the moment across British broadcasting,” argued the BBC’s history commissioner Tom McDonald.
The exec, who also commissions specialist factual and natural history shows for the BBC, praised the efforts of other broadcasters – “When Channel 4 do history they do it very well and differently to us; Channel 5 do some really fantastic history” – but he added that “the ecosystem only works if everyone is doing it.
“I don’t worry about finding the next generation of on-screen historians,” he continued.
How times have changed.
Now presenters travel across the globe to bring back stories, sometimes reflecting the dress and even the food of the era. And the long running classic documentaries with archive and voiceover, have largely given way to a rich explosion of formats from lavish reconstructions and living history to compelling personal journeys.
Robinson believed that one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history would slip from the public consciousness as the Battle of Blenheim and the Peninsular War had done before it.
In his new film for Discovery, The Somme: The First 24 Hours, the former Time Team presenter follows in the footsteps of five men who served in the Sheffield City Battalion, one of the First World War’s infamous Pals battalions.
Game of Thrones
Between 10 June and 10 July, the broadcaster aims to cover 140 hours of football news during the European Championship, as well as providing extensive material over all their media channels.
Former England captains Alan Shearer and Rio Ferdinand will present the cup's matches alongside France's Thierry Henry. Fan-favourite Gary Lineker takes the lead on all television reports, and will appear on digital coverage as well.