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British History Movies

Mark Kermode uncovers the cinematic and storytelling secrets of the quintessential British film genre – history.

‘History,’ says Mark Kermode, ‘is the quintessential British film genre.’ America may have its great outdoors for road movies and westerns, and teeming cities for cop and crime sagas. But there is more than enough in two millennia of British history to provide a bottomless well of story material.

To prove the point, Mark looks at some of the best films about British history in the order of when they are set, tracing the story of Britain from the Roman invasion to the modern era, via medieval times, the Tudors, the English Civil War and the 18th and 19th centuries. He shows, from action and adventure to political intrigue, and from forest-dwelling outlaws to embattled kings and queens, that British history encompasses a remarkable range of styles and situations. Each period is almost a genre in itself, with its own particular themes and characters. And facts are rarely allowed to stand in the way of a good story or striking image.

58 minutes

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:00


    History Repeating (feat. Shirley Bassey)

  • 00:11

    Thin Lizzy

    The Boys Are Back In Town

  • 00:27

    St. John Cantius Choir and Orchestra of Saint Cecilia, Rev. Scott A. Haynes, S.J.C.

    Requiem In D Minor, K. 626: Lux Aeterna

  • 00:57

    The Jam

    A Town Called Malice

  • 00:57

    Bruce Springsteen, The E Street Band

    Born To Run


Role Contributor
Presenter Mark Kermode
Writer Mark Kermode
Writer Kim Newman
Writer John Das
Executive Producer John Das
Series Producer Nick Freand Jones