The history of the English language.




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Series cast summary:
 Himself - Presenter (8 episodes, 2003)
Michael Cronin ...
 Readings (3 episodes, 2003)
 Readings (3 episodes, 2003)
Mark Saban ...
 Additional Voices (2 episodes, 2003)


In this eight part series, Melvyn Bragg, explores the development of the English Language over the last 1500 years. The first four programmes explain how this insignificant German dialect has evolved into a global language now spoken and understood by more people than any other in the world. The remaining four programmes visit various countries around the world to show the differences in modern English. Written by Mark Smith <>

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The biography of a language.





Release Date:

1 December 2002 (UK)  »

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Technical Specs


(8 episodes)

Sound Mix:


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User Reviews

Fascinating, engaging, informative. Let down by scheduling
13 March 2004 | by (Essex, England) – See all my reviews

Bragg displays, once again, his priceless gift of making the academic accessible, of educating without patronising. The development of English (past, current situation, future) is a huge, multi-faceted but potentially dull, topic. This series, with each episode pursuing a different theme or perspective, manages to give a substantial overview while leaving the viewer wanting more. However much you thought you knew about the history of the language, the diversity of its worldwide impact and the forces influencing its continuing development, this series will, almost certainly, broaden your understanding whilst entertaining with engaging detail.

The negatives are all to do with how poorly ITV handled its broadcast, relegating it to a graveyard, late Sunday evening, slot with minimal promotion or trailing. As far as I can ascertain, there are no plans for a repeat, nor has there been a DVD/Video release. Very frustrating, as I would love to watch the series again.

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