...of course, BBC didn't exist then, so to speak.
BBC is running themed history programmes to cover WWI, from now til 2019
. It's the biggest 'season' I've seen on the Beeb - usually a 'season' is six related progarmmes.
If I were more cynical I'd think the corp was trying to dictate the public view of the war - where it belongs in our history, how we should think about it, etc. etc. I don't know if it's actually driven by public demand.
I have noticed that the current programmes are overviews, and about 'how the war started' - an overview of the changes to society over the war, one about life in the year 1913 just before the war, one about the royal cousins (Victoria's descendants who sprawled across the royal families of Europe), a fairly academic discussion of whether the war could be avoided (though didn't have nearly enough time to chew over).
The drama 37 days is a historical drama about the time from Franz Ferdinand's assassination to the start of the war
. And propaganda or not, it's historical drama that BBC does so well: costumes, settings, acting talent and tight, intelligent scripting.
It spells out in comprehensible chunks how the conflict escalated from one assassination to a European war, in a way that I might actually remember longer than every previous documentary I've seen about WWI. For the first time it makes sense: honouring past agreements (some dating back to Waterloo and the war of 1870, which was still in living memory); entente cordiale; the war in Ireland that was widely anticipated (something I knew nothing about); the naval agreement renewed in 1912 (something else I knew nothing of).
It pointed out many nuances, to me.
That the German, Austrian and Russian(?) ambassadors were all cousins, part of a class of aristocrat-diplomats.
That everyone was trying to work around their summer holidays so at first the death in Sarajevo wasn't considered a very important assassination.
That many diplomats and officers had agendas, and could use the conflict to pitch their views. (Duh. This happens all the time, but somehow with history where outcome is well known, it doesn't feel that 'varied' in the recounting.)
Robert remarked that it still made the Kaiser Wilhelm out to be an aggressive antagonist, with unrealistic hopes of having a quick clean war before Russia could respond...and getting annoyed with his council for not doing what he asked while he was on holiday.
And it left out the Austro Hungarian emperor almost entirely, like he was just a puppet. It made me wonder if English and German histories are easier to source for BBC researchers and writers than Austrian ones.
The blog, of course, shows the geeks picking apart the details
, and includes an explanation of the sources.
My annoyance is the near complete lack of women in the story; that somehow they had no part. I understand that to a certain extent women in 1914 did not have the role in public life that they do now. But it means that a lot of dialogue falls on one female character to pick up as the token woman.
If you have a chance - see it for yourself.