1914 Live: History retold as breaking news

1914 Live

BBC News is used to reporting breaking news around the world. It's what we do, part of the reason for our very existence. So if there were to be an assassination of a prominent European leader today, we would want to be there, reporting live. And audiences expect to consume breaking news in a live blog environment which is why we wanted to experiment with revealing history in this way.

This was the idea behind 1914 Live as the BBC's First World War season reaches the first significant anniversary.

We would use all the techniques of breaking news in 2014 to report on events from Sarajevo 100 years ago, particularly the BBC's Live format used to great effect during the World Cup and Queen's Baton Relay. And we would do it by using BBC correspondents in their familiar roles. Watch the trailer here.

Franz Ferdinand and his wife

So, Allan Little, who has great experience of reporting in the Balkans, will be our man in Sarajevo. Royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell tells the story of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, his wife, and their relationship with our own king and queen of the time. Diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall will look at how the assassination was viewed by the government in London.

Security correspondent Frank Gardner will tell us about the security concerns surrounding the archduke's visit to Sarajevo. And we have reaction from correspondents based in the most important European cities at the time - St Petersburg, Berlin, Vienna and Paris - to find out how the tsar, the kaiser, an emperor and a president were all told the news.

Their reports are based on meticulous research of what actually happened that day - and how the world came to know about it. The facts have been gathered and checked, the timeline carefully constructed. Professor Margaret MacMillan, author of The War That Ended Peace, has acted as our historical consultant. Her Day by Day series on Radio 4 is another part of the BBC's commitment to explaining the build-up to war alongside a wealth of material to explore at the World War One site.

No one at the time thought the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire and his wife would lead to World War One. So our reports don't suggest that. But what they do reflect are the tensions in Europe that summer and how Europe's rulers were all deeply suspicious of each other.

1914 Live begins by reporting a royal visit by what was, by early 20th Century standards, a very modern couple. It follows the events of the morning as they happened and ends by reflecting the shock felt around Europe which, unbeknown by anyone, was suddenly 37 days away from war.

Watch history unfold on 28 June 2014, 09:30-13:30



This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Very well done BBC. A very good approach to bringing to life events that everyone should know about. For those complaining about a licence fee come and life in France, here we pay the same amount for a television licence for a far inferior television service with adverts!

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    My knowledge of the Great War comes from the secondary sources.I've been taught that 'young Bosnia' was a radical group made of young Muslim,Serb,and Croats peasants.Gavrilo Princip,who contributed to the start of the war,died in a prison 1918 from TBC.However,the colonial share between the European countries cause big tension between them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Yes this Serb whose name I wont dignify was therefore ultimately responsible for the brutality, death and misery of millions... yeah I can see how Serbia would honour such a man as a hero. What kind of warped and distasteful sense of national pride is this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    I can't see the videos... where is the Key Video tab mentioned in "Watch the full report in the Key Video tab above"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    There is a documentary on BBC iplayer that talked about the royal families in Europe at the time and how the death of Queen Vitctoria led to souring relations between the countries of Europe.

    Also at the time Germany was planning on building rail lines into the middle east... bet no one can guess what for!

    The arch duke being shot was just the public spectacle to get the war machine going.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    "BBC News is used to reporting breaking news around the world. It's what we do, part of the reason for our very existence".

    Oh - I thought the reason for the BBC's existence was to promote immigration, multiculturalism and to constantly bombard us with subliminal messages about how Britain 'isn't yours' anymore.

    And charge £145.50 for the 'privilege' of watching this pc nonsense in colour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Utter disingenuousness on the part of the BBC. You would not have had so many correspondents present for someone like the Archduke. This is going back in time and wishing it were so. Did you have correspondents waiting at the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on the morning of September 11? No you didn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Oh and will the BBC also be reporting on the disasterous military decisions being taken leading to the huge loss of life during the war?

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Oh my god, he's just been shot! I hope he's okay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Such an important event should not be forgotten and this is a very good way to report it. How different the world would be if this had not happened; a united Europe? Russia dominated by a despot? America side lined?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Brilliant idea, BBC - well done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Good old BBC simplify it down to this one event and blame Serbia. Nothing about the behaviour of the Austro-Hungarian empire that contributed to the assassination. Nothing about the unrealistic demands placed on Serbia by Austria following the assassination and the role that played in triggering the war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    So who'll be presenting the weather of 28-06-1914? ;)

    This is really cool.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    16) Jaytime.

    Good grief. Circumstances can't be more different!

    We've gone from a Europe dominated by autocracies to one dominated by democracies.

    I suspect you're having a knock at the EU while forgetting most of Europe other than us, Russia & a few French want in.

    Despite the headlines the big winners in the EU elections were still "in" parties - which is why we're stuck with Mr Junker.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    This sounds cool as long as they don't try to increase dramatic effect or create a better story out of it. Too much it is portrayed that the events in Sarajevo suddenly sparked off this huge war out of nowhere, and the details of long-standing tensions between the European states are ignored.

    This was the idea as the governments didn't want to admit they could have done more to prevent it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    100 years on, and we see the EU indulging in the same Empire building that helped start the Great War.

    We have learned nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    I dread to think what might happen if the new President of Ukraine was assassinated by Russian separatists and their was a link to Putin in the process. Like Sarajevo, events could so easily spiral out of control. Fingers crossed! The EU must tread very carefully into the former Soviet Union's lair.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    We'll done BBC,Anglo Saxon genius at work.
    Ww1 lost Europes best and brightest young men.
    At least a modern war will kill men and women soliders equally.
    so sad that so many European girls never married,or were widowed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Such a clever idea. I can feel the tension mounting even though I know the whys and wherefore so well. We'll done BBC. Please do this again on other important days during the Great War.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Perhaps the history can be used to support continued membership of the EU and the doctrine of multiculturalism. Never let a history lesson go to waste, I say


Page 5 of 6


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.