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Eight-part series exploring the achievements of some of the greatest figures of the 20th century. In this episode, the public decide who the greatest leader was.

Eight-part series exploring the achievements and legacies of some of the greatest figures of the 20th century. Seven well-known advocates each front an hour-long documentary arguing the case for four people from a different field of human endeavour - leaders, explorers, scientists, entertainers, sports stars, artists and writers, and activists. At the end of each documentary the public vote for their favourite. The icon who wins the public vote in each category is put through to a live final, which sees all of the celebrity advocates return to fight their icon's case - the public then vote again for the person they believe was the greatest figure of the 20th century.

The 20th century was a time of extraordinary change. One hundred years of progress which shaped not only the society of the day, but generations to come. A century of seismic shifts, that saw countless breakthroughs and innovations, which would impact our world in ways never seen before. Behind this progress were incredible individuals who chose to defy convention, and in doing so changed the world forever. The life's work of these icons represent benchmarks now set for humanity - from scientists whose discoveries changed the life of billions and redefined what we know about our world to the sports stars and explorers who pushed the boundaries of what humankind thought possible - their stories represent the pinnacle of society's achievements.

The series begins with leaders, and sees a well-known figure, passionate about the subject, examining the achievements and legacies of the people whose decisions affect all our lives. 20th century leaders oversaw great victories, unimaginable hardships, sweeping social change, and the worst conflicts in human history. This film charts some of the qualities that made the century's most iconic leaders stand out, and we quickly learn that the scale of their responsibilities at times of great social change mean that their legacies are often far from straightforward.

The programme also demonstrates how leadership changed over the course of 100 years - and the role emerging communication technologies played in that shift. In part because of what we wanted from them - our rulers went from men of empire, determined to maintain an established world order - to people with newly found freedoms, equally determined to start a new way of doing things. Newly emerging technologies affected what we saw and heard of the people in charge - and what we wanted from them.

Trevor examines the lives of Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela. He discovers exactly what made each of them stand out, and how we are still living with their legacies to this day.

Churchill - From the battlefields of the Boer war, to the blitzed streets of wartime London, Trevor examines the qualities that made Churchill such a towering figure in 20th Century leadership.

Roosevelt - Paralysed from the waist down, FDR's bold social and economic reforms turned a country on the brink of catastrophe into a superpower, and helped end World War Two along the way.

Thatcher - Britain's first female prime minister, Thatcher was marked out not only by her gender, but for pushing through reforms so bold they have shaped the political landscape ever since.

Mandela - At the trial that saw him sent to prison, Mandela made a speech that galvanised international condemnation of Apartheid South Africa. 27 years later the former prisoner was made president.

At the end of the programme, the public can vote for the greatest leader of the century, who, along with the finalists from the other categories, will be put through to the live final at the end of the series.

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59 minutes

Audio described

Last on

Tue 8 Jan 2019 21:00


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Explore how impactful icons are and discover the truth behind their reputations

Explore how impactful icons are and discover the truth behind their reputations

Visit our interactive pages to uncover the real people behind iconic figures

Discover a free collection of portraits of iconic figures from the 20th century

Discover a free collection of portraits of iconic figures from the 20th century

Visit the Gallery and pick up a free booklet or download from the link above