Press Office

Thursday 27 Nov 2014

The Do-Gooders

The Do-Gooders

In this three-part series for BBC Two, Ian Hislop looks at the dramatic cultural revolution in 19th-century Britain – one of the most remarkable periods of social change.

Focusing on attitudes to children, alcohol and institutional morality, the series uncovers the achievements of those high-minded men and women whose legacy was a Britain worth living in.

Victorian do-goodery is often mocked as hypocrisy, when in fact it rescued a society in turmoil and gave it many of the bearings we still rely on today. These extraordinary people were just as much the engineers of modern Britain as Brunel or Stephenson – they looked at the equivalent of today's so-called "broken Britain" and had the conviction and energy to try to "fix" it.

Packed with extraordinary characters, fascinating vignettes and contemporary resonances, in retelling these stories The Do-Gooders might just help to relocate the values bequeathed by the Victorians which, although easily mocked, are ultimately cherished.

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History Of Ancient Britain – Part 1

History Of Ancient Britain – Part 1

In a landmark new BBC Two series, Neil Oliver embarks on an epic quest through thousands of years of ancient history to tell the story of how Britain and its people came to be. It's a journey that takes Neil from the glacial wasteland of ice-age mammoth hunters, through the glories of the Stone Age, to the magnificence of international Bronze Age society.

Britain is extraordinarily rich in prehistory – monuments of stone, fragments of domestic life and the remains of people who walked the land thousands of years ago are all part of the same story – a story that laid the foundation stones of the modern world.

Travelling the length and breadth of the British Isles, Neil pieces together this remarkable story by exploring many great wonders, revealing how science is solving mysteries and getting hands-on experience of ancient technology.

By tapping into the latest discoveries and experimental archaeology, the series gets under the skin of this mysterious world, the lives of the people who inhabited it, and the tipping points that changed their lives.

History Of Ancient Britain – Part 2 will continue the story through the Iron Age, the Celtic Kings and the dawn of History itself with the Romans.

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Ancient Worlds

Ancient Worlds

The BBC provides viewers with a collection of programmes this autumn exploring our links with the ancients and revealing the extent to which their world has helped to shape ours.

The flagship series in the collection is BBC Two's Ancient Worlds, a six-part odyssey from the first cities of Mesopotamia to the Christianisation of the Roman Empire with archaeologist and historian Richard Miles at the helm. The series tells the story of what Richard argues is mankind's greatest achievement – civilisation. The strongly authored series offers an epic sweep of history against a panorama of stunning locations and bold propositions about the origins of human society.

Alongside Ancient Worlds, Dr Michael Scott argues in BBC Four's Delphi that this Greek sanctuary city is the perfect historical microcosm through which to unlock the secrets of the ancient world. From Alexander the Great to Nero and Hadrian, this town offers up a wealth of fascinating documentary and archaeological evidence. With each step through Delphi, Michael takes viewers through some of the most vicious and bloodthirsty periods in world history.

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Pompeii

Pompeii

Mary Beard, Cambridge professor of Classics and author of Pompeii – The Life Of A Roman Town, gleans evidence from an extraordinary find in the ancient city of Pompeii to provide a fascinating new insight into the people who lived in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius before its cataclysmic eruption.

In a dark cellar in Oplontis, a suburb of ancient Pompeii, the remains of more than 50 victims of the eruption are put under the microscope of forensic science. The remains are submitted to a barrage of tests that, together with a fresh look at other finds in the city, unlock a valuable scientific snapshot of Pompeian life – and there are some surprises in store.

The programme features a visit to bars, dining rooms and an ancient cesspit, where viewers will see what really went through ancient digestive tracts.

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Norman Season

Norman Season

The BBC explores a seminal period of history whose resonances can still be felt today in a season focusing on the Normans across BBC Two, BBC Four and BBC Learning.

Leading the season is The Normans, a three-part series on BBC Two that examines the extraordinary expansion and unchecked ambition of this warrior race between the 10th and 13th centuries.

Presented by professor Robert Bartlett, the series sweeps across borders and centuries, journeying from the stormy shores of Great Britain via Jerusalem to the Kingdom of Sicily, explaining how and why a dynasty of dukes and warriors became conquerors and kings. Bursting with colourful manuscripts, documents and artefacts, this series gives voice to an unfamiliar world of princess historians and mixed-race monks.

Alongside The Normans, Dr Stephen Baxter presents a one-off BBC Two documentary on The Domesday Book, shaking the dust off Domesday and revealing that this ancient public record unleashed enough red tape to help create the modern nation state.

Meanwhile, BBC Four turns the spotlight on the art and culture of the Normans:

In The Stones Of Rosslyn, art historian Lady Helen Rosslyn delves into the art and architecture of one of the most famous medieval chapels in the world;

In Norman Walks, Dan Snow uncovers the "forgotten" Norman Empire – one that has been largely overlooked but which laid the foundation for modern Britain;

In The Art Of The Anglo-Saxons, Dr Janina Ramirez tells the story of how England in the Dark Ages became one of the art capitals of Christendom;

And Poet Simon Armitage shows how the legend of King Arthur matured in the years after the Norman invasion in Armitage On Arthur, asking what role the mythical king still serves in our national consciousness.

The Norman Season also launches Hands On History, a two-year BBC Learning campaign offering audiences inspiring opportunities to take the next step from watching programmes to discovering history around them. Working in partnership with more than 20 heritage and history organisations, Hands On History offers a range of events and activities as part of the Norman Season, including Norman walks.

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If Walls Could Talk

If Walls Could Talk

Dr Lucy Worsley, chief curator of the Royal Historic Palaces, presents a new series for BBC Four exploring how homes have evolved into what they are today – and how our relationship with them has changed over time.

Telling the story of British domestic life from the Middle Ages to the present day through four rooms – the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom and the lounge – Lucy examines ever-shifting attitudes to privacy, class, cleanliness and technology.

She recreates a range of domestic experiences, from attempting to do a Tudor laundry to cooking and eating a meal in a medieval crofter's cottage. Featuring interviews with a range of specialist historians, curators and living history experts, If Walls Could Talk will change the way you look at your home forever.

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Digging For Britain

Digging For Britain

Great Britain might be a small country but it has a huge history. Everywhere you stand, there are worlds beneath your feet – and every year hundreds of excavations bring lost treasures to the surface.

These amazing historical excavations are the subject of Digging For Britain, a landmark four-part history series for BBC Two.

Presented by Dr Alice Roberts, Digging For Britain reveals some of the newest finds, research and social history: from excavating the new temple near Skara Brae to preparations for the first sailing of a Bronze Age ship; from uncovering new truths about the richest ever find of Anglo-Saxon treasure to uncovering Shakespeare's first theatre.

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Children Of The Revolution

Children Of The Revolution

Across the UK there are statues to the great and the good – the men who led the Industrial Revolution. But the immense contribution that children made has largely been forgotten or ignored. Yet they were essential to Britain emerging as the world's first global superpower.

Jane Humphries, Professor of Economic History at Oxford University, now uncovers new evidence about the lives of the British child workers of the Industrial Revolution.

Using the children's own testimony, written and recorded at the time, and ground-breaking animation, this is a portrait of the lives lived at the sharp end of the Age of Manufactures.

As well as showing what they felt about growing up as the first generation of industrial workers it also tells the story of how and why Britain put its children into harness in the first place.

Child labour was Britain's own version of slavery. This programme charts the campaign to limit its worst excesses through the 19th century.

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