Introducing iWonder guides for the World War One season

Sunday 19 January 2014, 14:59

Tim Plyming Tim Plyming Executive Producer

BBC iWonder interactive guide to World War One BBC iWonder interactive guide to World War One

Central to the BBC’s ambition for the World War One season is the desire to reintroduce audiences to a war they think they know. At the heart of that ambition is the BBC’s digital offer, bringing together the BBC’s TV and radio programming, news and features alongside exclusive, in-depth and interactive online content, allowing audiences to explore new perspectives on the war that changed everything. 

Today, we’re launching the first set of BBC iWonder interactive guides to support the BBC’s World War One season. iWonder is the new brand from the BBC designed to unlock the learning potential of all BBC content, curated by experts and BBC Talent. The first iWonder content is focused on World War One, but in time, iWonder will provide compelling content across all the BBC’s factual and education genres. 

Fundamental to iWonder is the interactive guides’ format and these provide the perfect platform for audiences to explore new perspectives on the War by combining video, audio, text and graphic content – taking them on journeys through key themes within World War One – all available from

When we started to plan the first set of interactive guides for World War One we focused on the common misconceptions around the War with the desire to challenge myths and perceptions. For example, we have developed a guide with Dan Snow around the widely held view that the majority of soldiers died in the trenches – the truth is that nearly 90% of soldiers survived war in the trenches. We have worked hard to collate content which will deepen audiences understanding of central war topics and with the first set of interactive guides, looking at how we think of generals, the role of women as well as looking at huge advances in medicine, the postal service and communications.

Journalist Kate Adie

We have been lucky to work with some great talent across the World War One season including Kate Adie (pictured above), Ian McMillan, Frank Gardner, Alan Johnson and Shirley Williams. The iWonder interactive guides have given our presenters the chance to explore the themes within World War One which interest them the most.

The process of creating the first set of iWonder guides has been fantastic, working with online production teams based in Glasgow, Cardiff and London. In the past week we have been have been filming with Gareth Malone for an interactive guide looking at how the popular song Pack up Your Troubles became the viral hit of World War One.

The iWonder approach and interactive guide format is allowing us to explore a huge range of subject areas and we hope to publish over 100 World War One interactive guides through 2014.

I am certain that the iWonder interactive guides will be a new and exciting way for the BBC to create compelling content. The format has been designed with BBC’s four screen strategy firmly in mind which means you can enjoy this great content whenever and wherever you are - whether you’re using a smartphone, tablet or desktop device.You can read more about the format of iWonder interactive guides from my colleague Andy Pipes’ post on the BBC Internet Blog

We’re very excited to share these new, content rich iWonder interactive guides with you and I hope that our audiences will enjoy using our iWonder guides to explore the war we think we know so well.

Tim Plyming is Executive Producer, Knowledge and Learning


  • See more of the new World War One iWonder guides on the BBC's World War One website.
  • More information about the iWonder guides can be found on the Media Centre website.
  • Controller Adrian Van Klaveren explained how the BBC's is marking the centenary of World War One in a post on the About the BBC Blog last year. He also highlighted some of this year's programming in a post published on 1 January this year. 
  • Watch the World War One season launch trailer on YouTube



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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The WWW1 in German East Africa went on for two weeks after it had ended in Europe.
    Soldiers had to facetes tse flies mosquitoes, wild animals as well as German soldiers and their African askaris.
    Why do we not hear more about this theater of war? Personal father fought for the British.
    A Khan

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I groaned when your introduction said the song "Pack up your Troubles" went "viral". OMG - the first hint of a dumbed down history! When will we hear Dan Snow asking - what might the twitter exchange have been between Haig and Ludendorff; what might Lloyd George have put in his blog after the first day of the Somme offensive? Try and widen the topics - are we going to hear about the rapid growth in numbers, unionisation and increased militancy of industrial workers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Good work BBC - I am sure this has been many months in the making and it looks great. I love the fact that we have so much time to explore what went on and I'm looking forward to many months of informed analysis and understanding of this extraordinary world changing event. Great launch!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Would this project be interested in something on the chivalry that supposedly existed between fighter pilots on both sides? There may have been some unwritten rules between the earliest fighter pilots of the war, but by 1915 aerial combat had started to evolve from a particularly deadly form of 'sport' into industrialised warfare and, as air fighting became more practical, tactics evolved and the air war became more pragmatic and ruthless it became increasingly less 'knightly' and increasingly ruthless instead. At the start of the war opposing pilots were still finding their feet within the new form of warfare. By the end of the war they tended more to possess the flying skill of a pilot, the marksmanship of a hunter and the coldness of an executioner or assassin. I'd be keen to provide the text if the Beeb could provide me with a brief to follow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    A very good book to read on WW1 and all of the Black Adder misconceptions is Mud Blood and Poppycock by Gordon Corrigan.

    Well done BBC a good start to a very different time when people were proud to be British and serve. They might of been naïve and blinkered by todays standards but that's why we need a fresh view of that time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Whatever people think of the level of academic content and breath of the coverage it would be well to remember that only the BBC could make such an accessible history.
    No private company would attempt such a thing without a way of making money from it.
    It is one of the reasons why the BBC must be protected from over commercial interests.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Don't hold your breath JRL 1954 (2), perception management/manipulation has now become the raison d'etre of the BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    JRL1954 - "Try to widen the topics"? Well the first batch contains features on trenches, women, poetry, music, surgery, propaganda, journalism and tunnellers, and there are many more to follow. It's easy to sneer, isn't it? Hope it makes you feel good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Thanks Dan Snow. Now we know that it wasn't the bloodiest war, only 12% died, only a mere 30% of time was spent in the trenches so that's not too bad, the generals did a grand job and reacted swiftly to change their tactics in the face of failure, the ANZACS suffered significantly less then Brits at Gallipoli, lots of people loved the war, etc. Thanks Michael Portillo. The war didn't change much itself, but just delayed the changes which were already happening. Thanks Ian McMillan. Now we know the war poets lied or exaggerated and the millions of deaths and maimings were not so terrible after all.
    Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about then. Makes you wonder why every village has a memorial. Makes you wonder why so many who took part would never talk about it. Sorry we were all so gullible as to fall for the leftie nonsense spouted about it in the 1960s. Obviously it wasn't as significant as episode as we all thought.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    My grandfather was one of the lucky ones-he survived the terrible battles. He told me that he was taken prisoner three times, I asked him how he escaped. He said it was easy because the prisoners were sat down in a field, you waited till it poured with rain or it was getting dark. You found something to dig a hole for your toilet necessity and waved at the guard then wandered off. The difficulty was getting across nomandsland! He had a german helmet which he showed me in the early 50's! I was born during the second world war!

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I think the history of WW1 needs reassessing, I certainly carry a lot of preconceptions about it. However, the piece on Wilfred Owen says that 'Ducle.. ' etc is a narrow view by one poet and hints that others had a different view of the war - are there poems that are not jingoistic that give a positive reason for the death and sacrifice? - they weren't in the piece, just the conclusion that Owen was not the whole story, which is obvious. It would have been interesting to know if the schools which recruited young men to go to war actually promoted the idea with the concept that it is 'sweet and good to die for one's country' - I don't deny that in some circumstances it becomes necessary to die for one's country but empty patriotism sold to young men who went to war to escape limited options at home is not 'sweet or good'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    The use of wireless played a significant role in the operations of all three armed services - for example the use of direction finders by the Navy, into which Marconi Marine officers were drafted. Wireless was used for both inter-aircraft and air-to-ground communication. Army units operated along the front line and back to headquarters. The Marconi factories were all dedicated to war work and research laboratories to new developments. There is a lot of interesting material available.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    1st British regiment deployed in WW1 was the second battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment, sent to Basra with 51 other divisions. The Mesopotamian invasion is ALWAYS airbrushed from allied histories of WW1 in preference to the Archduke Ferdinand myth as the primary cause for the First Great War for Oil. Oil had just been discovered at Majid Soleiman just as the Royal Navy was changing from coal power to oil. The German drive to the East to extend the Orient Express from Constantinople to Baghdad was an attempt to allow/ease the German acquisition of oil from these new fields in Mesopotamia, so the British Empire sent troops to preempt this business. The Great War for Oil had begun. When the 1993 invasion of Iraq unearthed British War graves around Basra, this came as a total surprise to the troops, journalists and historians who had been fed the official "history"; that WW1 was fought in Belgium and France by plucky Brits against the beastly Hun, not across the Middle East against the Ottoman Empire and their Prussian allies. British Empire and post-Empire troops occupied or invaded Iraq for 50 years of the 20th century to enable the exploitation of the oilfields and protect them from the indigenous peoples of the region. Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, the Emirate states, Kuwait, Turkey and Greece all have their origins in the crooked settlement after the WW1 armistice allowing France, the US and British Empire to reward their allies and foment a century of unrest across and around the Mediterranean. The USSR, and the Balkan madness also began then as a result of the First Great War for Oil but the victors' history perpetuates the Franz Ferdinand fairytale. And they all fought happily ever after.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I hope you poms aren't going to glorify a war (even though you/we won) that was fought on Napoleonic thinking, but with new steel!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Robert Graves said it all. End of story.


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