A collection of programmes relating to World War One
The forgotten history of Britain before the First World War, with Michael Portillo.
Listen now 15 mins
The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.
But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.
In the final programme Michael talks to a number of Historians about the turmoil of the pre-war years, why they've been painted as innocent and untroubled and what it was that created the tensions running in almost every walk of British life.
Producer: Tom Alban.