An exploration of how World War One changed British society. The stories behind some of the names listed on war memorials are explored by tracking down the descendants of the soldiers; they are asked to imagine what the war experience was like for their relatives, and in doing so they reveal how the impact of the war changed British society forever. Written by
Although I have not yet gotten around to watching much of it, the TV series "who do you think you are" has thrown up many surprises and revelations in the ancestors of the famous people taking part. Ian Hislop took part in one of this shows and it was his family's involvement in WWI that partly motivated him to make this series (money probably also being a factor!). The focus of the documentary is the 37000-odd WWI memorials around the UK, which perhaps (as the terrible "schools' television" title sequence indicates) we don't notice anymore. This the series delves into the impact of WWI, through personal stories and public records.
It does this in an interesting fashion which is close to being a historical documentary but is never stiff or dull. However it also manages to avoid the other trap of documentaries that try to be accessible and isn't ever trivial or overly simplistic. The script allows for an interesting and well-built exploration of the subject and it is mostly compelling. Although the horrors of war are evident in every episode, the series never really pushes it or over-sentimentalises it but just allows the facts to speak for themselves.
As presenter, Hislop puts his usual acerbic nature and humour to the side and comes across as a reasonably good presenter. He is sensitive without being clingy and factual without being cold or dull. Although he doesn't particularly grab me as a memorable and fascinating deliverer of documentaries, he does a good job here and matches the material to presenting an interesting and accessible series about WWI.
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