Brendan O’Carroll, Michael Portillo, Heather Jones, Diarmaid Ferriter and Bob Geldof to present a range of programmes.
In a new film for BBC Two Brendan O’Carroll (Mrs Brown’s Boys) takes viewers on an ancestral journey through the history of the events of 1916.
Michael Portillo follows the British chain of command during The Easter Rising, telling the story from 'enemy files'; while Bob Geldof reflects on the events in Ireland and the impact they had on the works of WB Yeats.
On BBC Radio 4, historians Heather Jones and Diarmaid Ferriter tell the story of the Easter Rising, as well as exploring the key landmarks in Anglo-Irish relations over the subsequent century; and BBC Radio Cymru explores the rebellion’s connection with Wales.
Marking 100 years since the Easter Rising the BBC is broadcasting a range of programming on TV, radio and online this spring, looking back at the events of 1916 that saw the attempted rebellion against British rule in the midst of World War One.
Martin Davidson, Head of Commissioning History & Business, Specialist Factual, Science and Religion, says: “The events of 1916 in Ireland had an immense impact on Anglo-Irish relations. In this anniversary year, BBC audiences will be able to tap into a variety of programming that sheds a light on the lasting influence of the attempted rebellion that took place whilst the rest of the country was distracted with World War One.”
Mohit Bakaya, Commissioning Editor, Factual, Radio 4, says: “The Easter Rising of 1916 was a key moment in 20th Century history. I am delighted that Radio 4 will not only be able to explore the circumstances and stories connected with the events of a century ago, but also tell the extraordinary story of relations between Britain and Ireland in the subsequent 100 years, culminating with an up-to-the-minute account of the debate surrounding the prospects of a united Ireland today. With Diarmaid Ferriter, Heather Jones, Fergal Keane and Fintan O’Toole, we are in expert hands.”
In a deeply personal film, writer and comedian Brendan O’Carroll (Mrs Brown’s Boys) tells the story of the Irish Easter Rising, in Brendan O'Carroll: My Family At War on BBC Two. Exactly one hundred years ago in Easter week 1916, some 1,600 Irish rebels took over the centre of Dublin. Despite overwhelming odds, the rebels held out against the forces of the British Empire for six days until they were shelled into submission. Three of those rebels were Brendan O’Carroll’s uncles.
Now, on the centenary of the revolt, Brendan tells the dramatic story of the Rising and looks at the part his family played in it. He explores how the Rising, though a complete military failure, sent shockwaves through the British Empire and signalled the birth of today’s Irish Republic. With access to freshly released records, Brendan shines new light on to a dark and tumultuous chapter that would go on to shape the history of the British Isles for the next century.
Brendan O’Carroll explains: “My relationship with the 1916 rising is personal. Three of the rebels who held Dublin city that week were my uncles. I knew about the rising and learnt about the rising but never knew anything about my family’s part in it. So, on the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising, I’m going to retrace my uncles’ steps and in doing so tell you the story of 1916. And it’s an extraordinary story - a story of subterfuge, violence, of cock-ups, catastrophes but also one of idealism and sacrifice.”
Later this spring BBC Two airs Easter 1916: 'The Enemy Files'. In 1916, at the height of WW1, armed insurgents raised up against the British in Dublin, The Empire's second city. Using secret documents, cabinet papers, intelligence reports, military orders and diaries and letters, Michael Portillo pieces together the story of this uprising from the British point of view. Was Dublin just another battle at a time of war where military justice was immediate and brutal - or by their actions, did the British men who wrote these documents hasten the end of an empire? Did an unlikely band of Irish rebels, led by playwrights and poets, do more to advance the cause of Irish freedom in five days than nationalist politicians had done in the previous 50 years, or did they damage the cause and condemn the island to a history of violence?
Michael Portillo looks for the answers in 'The Enemy Files'. This is the story of Ireland’s Easter rising as told by British politicians, soldiers, spies and bureaucrats.
On BBC Four, Geldof On Yeats is a 90-minute film which sees Bob Geldof reflect on the events of 1916 in Ireland and the impact they had on the works of WB Yeats.
Also showing on BBC Four is an acquisition film, 1916, narrated by Liam Neeson. This landmark documentary examines the Easter Rising and the subsequent events that led to the creation of an independent Irish state and, indirectly, to the start of the breakup of the British Empire. Looking at the Rising from an international perspective, 1916 will broaden public understanding of the historical interconnections between Britain, Ireland and the United States - connections that continued to have significance up to and including the recent Irish peace process.
The documentary combines rarely-seen archive with contemporary filming all over the world, together with revealing interviews by the world’s leading experts and historians. It is a COCO TV production in association with the University of Notre Dame.
BBC Radio 4 In March and April BBC Radio 4 explores the events of the 1916 Easter Rising, telling the story of the Anglo-Irish relations over the subsequent century and examining the state of Irish nationalism and unionism today. Programmes include:
The Easter Rising 1916 (Friday 18 March & Friday 25 March, 11.00-11.30am, BBC Radio 4). A two-part series presented by Heather Jones of the London School of Economics examining in forensic detail the events of Easter 1916 in Ireland and drawing on the latest research into this much-interpreted, much-debated subject.
The Anglo-Irish Century (Fridays from 22 April, 29 April, 6 May & 13 May, 11am-11.30am, BBC Radio 4). A major four-part series presented by Diarmaid Ferriter telling the story of 100 years of Anglo-Irish relations from the Easter Rising to the present day. Diarmaid explores some of the landmark events that shaped the history of the two countries and looks particularly at the relationships between leading political figures, sometimes surprising, sometimes corrosive, that saw Britain and Ireland lurch from armed conflict to icy separation and latterly, genuine comradeship.
1916: A Letter From Ireland (Sunday 27 March, 1.30pm-2pm, BBC Radio 4). The events of Easter 1916 were a seminal moment in Irish history and in Anglo-Irish relations too. And in Ireland, a huge project is underway to try and understand what was happening to the country at the time. Letters from private collections have been sourced from all corners of the island of Ireland, shedding fresh light on the Ireland of 100 years ago. In this programme, Fintan O’Toole looks at some of those letters which reveal a country beyond the politics, divisions and rebellions of the Easter Rising. These are the daily words, the last words, the unspoken words and the forgotten words of the Ireland of a century ago.
Rising Voices (Saturday 23 April, 8pm-9pm, BBC Radio 4). Fergal Keane explores the language, literature and song that helped inspire the Easter Rising, and the resulting cultural legacy.
Ireland: Looking Beyond the Border (Monday 28 March, 8pm-8.30pm, Radio 4). In this programme BBC Northern Ireland's political correspondent Chris Page examines the state of Irish nationalism and unionism a hundred years after 1916, in the context of elections on both sides of the border.
BBC Radio 3 BBC Radio 3 explores the cultural and intellectual landscape in Ireland in 1916 - and the role that played in events during Easter and throughout World War One.
The Women Who Staged The Rising (Sunday 27 March, 6.45pm-7.30pm). Broadcaster and journalist Marie-Louise Muir examines the role of theatre in politicising the remarkable but largely forgotten Irish women who fought in the 1916 Easter Rising. As she pieces together their story through archives at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and visits to key locations associated with the insurrection, Marie-Louise asks what happened to these women and their radical ideals in the years that followed.
Drama on 3: News From Home (Sunday 27 March, 9pm - 10.35pm). The News From Home is a major new play from Nick Dear and views the events of Easter Week 1916 and its aftermath through the eyes of Kitty and Nora, maidservants of an English country house tucked away in the New Forest. Kitty and Nora come from Roscrea, Tipperary, and have always thought of themselves as British citizens, but their views change as they learn that there has been an armed insurrection in their homeland, and for a few days, as news trickles in, it seems just possible that the nascent Irish Republic may succeed. Overnight the girls become thought of as Irish, not British, and potentially in league with the German enemy.
The Essay: Minds At War (tx TBC). The returning World War One series has an Irish flavour this spring, with a series of essays discussing how a particular work by a specific Irish artist or writer demonstrates its creator’s attitude to and experience of the First World War. We hear from the photographer John D. McHugh about war photos by Father Francis Browne, the poet Gerald Dawe exploring Francis Ledwidge’s poems and Dr. Heather Jones on Elizabeth Bowen’s novel The Last September. Also included are essays on James Joyce’s Ulysses and The Silver Tassie by Sean O’Casey.
As part of the BBC’s Easter Rising offering, BBC iWonder will release an experimental Virtual Reality (VR) documentary, Easter Rising: Voice Of A Rebel (working title).
Users are taken back to the streets of Dublin to retrace the steps of 19 year-old Willie McNieve who took part in the Easter Rising against the British. The VR experience makes use of McNieve’s eye witness account - a recording of which lay undiscovered for over 30 years - so people can witness the rising as if they were Willie himself. Through a unique and personal insight into this key moment in European history, Easter Rising: Voice Of A Rebel presents an artistic journey into the memory of an ordinary man who was swept up into an extraordinary event.
The experience is being created in collaboration with London-based production company Crossover Labs and the award-winning Virtual Reality artist Oscar Raby of VRTOV. It will be available in 2016 on Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR platforms. There will also be a video version available in a BBC iWonder guide for web users at www.bbc.co.uk/iwonder
There will be more interactive documentary projects launching across the year marking other key moments from 1916 including the battle of the Somme.
On Radio Wales will be The Sinn Fein University (Sunday, March 27, 12.30pm – 1pm) - the story of Frongoch internment camp. Until 1916 it housed German prisoners of war in an abandoned distillery and crude huts, but in the wake of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland, the German prisoners were moved and it was used as a place of internment for approximately 1,800 Irish prisoners, among them such notables as Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith. They were accorded the status of prisoners of war. The camp became a fertile seeding ground for the spreading of the revolutionary gospel, with organisers such as Michael Collins giving impromptu lessons in guerrilla tactics. Later the camp became known as the 'University of Revolution'.
BBC Radio Cymru has commissioned three programmes about the Easter Rising. Two programmes follow the history of the Easter Rising and its connections with Wales, and will air over Easter – March 21 & 28 at 12.30pm. Another programme uncovers the history of the Welsh spy, Parcell Rees Bowen. He was a member of the British Government’s secret service and was allegedly killed by the IRA. He fought in the World War One and was honoured with a DFC medal. This programme airs March 28, at 6pm.
BBC Northern Ireland
BBC NI is marking the centenary anniversaries of events in 1916 – A Year Of History, which showcases a range of special programming and content across television, radio and online. Read more in their press release here.