BBC launches World War One iWonder guides

I’m fascinated by the tales of trench warfare. We hear a lot about how soldiers died, so I wanted my iWonder guide to take an in-depth look at how soldiers survived the trenches. The new format gives me the opportunity to present a view on this subject in an engaging and innovative way.”Dan Snow, Historian and Presenter
Date: 19.01.2014     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.57
To coincide with the start of the BBC’s World War One season the BBC today launches a range of exciting digital content under a new brand called BBC iWonder.

iWonder is the new brand from the BBC designed to unlock the learning potential of all BBC content. Interactive guides – curated by experts and BBC talent including Dan Snow, Kate Adie, Ian McMillan and Neil Oliver – are the first phase of this initiative.

Eight iWonder interactive guides will launch today at bbc.co.uk/ww1 with a further 17 to be added by the end of January. Rich with original video and audio content, iWonder provides a compelling new source of educational narratives. Designed to give people access to content in a new and more interactive way, they will deepen understanding, and challenge preconceptions. They have been built to work consistently across laptops, tablets and smartphones.

From the trenches to poetry and propaganda, whether the subject of the First World War is completely new to someone, or it’s a chapter in our nation’s story they have grappled with at length, the World War One iWonder guides enable people to interact with the Great War topics – and even the experts – that interest them.

Dan Snow, historian and presenter, says: “I’m fascinated by the tales of trench warfare. We hear a lot about how soldiers died, so I wanted my iWonder guide to take an in-depth look at how soldiers survived the trenches. The new format gives me the opportunity to present a view on this subject in an engaging and innovative way.”

Tim Plyming, Executive Producer for BBC Knowledge & Learning says: “Digital plays a central role in the BBC’s World War One season coverage and we’re really excited to bring audiences a range of compelling perspectives of the war. The guides span life in the trenches to poetry and propaganda and we hope each one will educate and inform the curious novice as well as the history buff.”

More iWonder guides will launch throughout 2014 that cover topics and genres across the full range of BBC output from science to natural history, arts, religion and ethics.

Saul Nassé, Controller of BBC Learning, says: "iWonder is about keeping the UK curious. If curiosity is the magic ingredient that makes audiences want to learn, then our iWonder guides are for curious minds. Whether a point in a historical drama inspires you to want to understand more about those times or an awe-inspiring moment from a natural history programme causes you to question how such footage can be captured, iWonder interactive guides are visually exciting experiences that invite you to take that next step and find out more."

The first 25* World War One guides are:

  1. How did so many soldiers survive the trenches? – presented by Dan Snow
  2. What did World War One really do for women? – presented by Kate Adie
  3. Has poetry distorted our view of World War One? – presented by Ian McMillan
  4. Was World War One propaganda the birth of spin? – presented by Neil Oliver
  5. How did ‘Pack up Your Troubles’ become the viral hit of World War One? – presented by Gareth Malone
  6. Why were journalists threatened with execution in World War One? – presented by Frank Gardner
  7. Was the tunnellers' war the most barbaric of World War One? – presented by Peter Barton
  8. How do you fix a face that’s been blown off by shrapnel? – presented by Michael Mosley
  9. Does the peace that ended World War One still haunt us today? – presented by Bridget Kendall
  10. Did World War One almost bankrupt Britain in 1914? – presented by Hugh Pym
  11. Did 'Oh What A Lovely War' shape our view of World War One? – presented by Joan Bakewell
  12. How did World War One change the way we treat war injuries today? – presented by Dr Saleyha Ahsan
  13. How close did we come to peace in 1914? – presented by Margaret MacMillan
  14. How do we remember World War One? – presented by Michael Portillo
  15. Why was the Battle of the Somme documentary bigger than Star Wars? – presented by Francine Stock
  16. How did World War One make the modern army chaplain? – presented by Hugh Pym
  17. Did the Indian Army save Britain in 1914? – presented by Mishal Husain
  18. Has history misjudged the generals of World War One? – presented by Gary Sheffield
  19. Who were the real war horses of World War One? – presented by Matt Baker
  20. How did Britain allow 250,000 children to fight in World War One? – presented by Greg James
  21. How did 12 million letters reach the trenches each week? – presented by Alan Johnson
  22. Did the trauma of World War One lead to great creativity? – presented by Shirley Williams
  23. Why do we remember the poets and not composers of World War One? – presented by Tom Service
  24. How did an artist use Cubism to fight the war at sea in World War One? – presented by Sam Willis
  25. Pigeons vs telephones: which worked best in the trenches?

*guides 9-25 have working titles and are subject to change

The BBC’s World War One Season

World War One on the BBC is the biggest and most ambitious season ever commissioned. Comprising over 130 new commissions and over 2,500 hours of programming across over four years, the season will offer a unique way to understand a war that changed our world, reflecting the centenary from every perspective: locally, nationally and internationally, and utilising the full range of the BBC’s services.

Beginning on BBC television this January with Jeremy Paxman’s Britain’s Great War (BBC One), the season will feature numerous documentaries from some of the country’s most eminent historians, drama from leading writers, eclectic music, arts, science, live events coverage and news and current affairs programming. (Please click here for a full press pack detailing content across BBC TV, radio and online.)

Alongside the mainstream programming across TV and radio, the BBC will also offer resources and develop innovative ways in which everyone can explore the war as it affected them, their families and their local communities.

BBC teams across the UK are collating and researching local stories in conjunction with Imperial War Museums and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. World War One At Home will bring together 1,400 stories broadcast through the BBC’s local and national channels telling how the war affected every community and area of the UK.

Resources for schools will encourage children to think about what life was like during wartime and how daily life has changed over the past century. Online interactive resources will cover a number of school curriculum areas and, in the broader digital sphere, the portal at bbc.co.uk/ww1 will feature the first of the new innovative iWonder guides. Blending documentary, discussion and presenter-led mini-films, each guide takes online users through some of the key issues relating to the war. Building to a collection of over 100 guides, this interactive content will offer a deeper understanding about the war and challenge preconceptions about the conflict.

MA