20th Century

20th Century

Defined by a rise of nationalism, two world wars, clashing super powers, nuclear weapons and space exploration, the 20th Century is certainly not void of fascinating history. Enjoy our enormous library of documentaries on key events such as D-Day or the sinkng of the Titanic, interviews with leading experts such as Tom Holland, David Cannadine and fascinating podcasts on the history of warfare.

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20th Century
  • Secrets of the Churchill War Rooms

    Winston Churchill, wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain and its empire during the Second World War, is one of the most recognisable figures of world history. The man dominated Whitehall and Westminster, but many of his most vital decisions during the war years were taken away from the public e...

  • Remember Pearl Harbor

    Narrated by Tom Selleck: Sunday, December 7, 1941 was a beautiful morning on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. A few sailors and soldiers were already up and playing a game of football near Pearl Harbor. Others were sleeping in their barracks or aboard ships after a late night of partying in Honolulu....

  • Dresden: The Fire and the Darkness

    75 years ago this week Dresden, in Saxony, known as the ‘jewel box’ because of its stunning architecture was obliterated by British and American bombers. The flames reached almost a mile high. Around 25,000 people were thought to have been killed. The novelist Kurt Vonnegut was there. It was he w...

  • 1916

    Last year audiences around the world were astounded by Sam Mendes' incredible World War One epic, 1917. This autumn, Dan Snow was invited to take a look at a recreated World War One trench network in the UK, built by military historian Taff Gillingham. In homage to 1917, we decided to film this w...

  • A Call for Change: Police Brutality in the United States

    This documentary looks into the history of militarised policing in the United States and how it has influenced the mindset and mentality of US policing today. Featuring Collette Flanagan, founder of ‘Mothers Against Police Brutality’, Dr Howard Henderson, Professor Julian Go, Alex Vitale, Sara Mo...

  • Africa and War

    The first shot fired by British forces in the First World War was fired by an African soldier in Africa. Historian David Olusoga presents three 1418 Now art commissions that will highlight the often overlooked role played by African soldiers.

  • Africa: Written out of History

    Historian Luke Pepera looks at how and why the history of Africa was written out of world history. He also explores how and why, as a consequence of this, the history of Africans in Britain was written out of British history.

  • Aircraft of the Battle of Britain

    Historian Mat McLachlan visits the Royal Air Force Museum in London to explore four iconic aircraft, which all served in the Battle of Britain - the Hawker Hurricane, the Supermarine Spitfire, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Fiat CR.42. Join him and museum historian Kris Hendrix as they enjoy un...

  • Alderney: The War Years

    In June 1940, the Channel Islands - British Crown Dependencies - were occupied by German forces. On the orders of Adolf Hitler, they were transformed into impregnable fortresses, works that still mark the islands today. Measuring just three square miles, the island of Alderney now found itself on...

  • Amara Thornton on the Lost Reels of Nineveh

    Dr Amara Thornton talks us through a newly discovered film documenting archaeological excavations at the site of Nineveh.

  • A Nation In Shock: The Assassination of JFK

    22 November, 1963, gunfire at Dealey Plaza, Dallas. Told through newsreels and archive, this film provides a snapshot of the grief and shock that gripped the world in the aftermath of the assassination of JFK.

  • Archaeologist Spies of World War One

    Archaeologists excavated the ancient past during peacetime, but in war they had a different mission - to play a vital role in modern military intelligence. Historian of archaeology Dr Amara Thornton explores a network of archaeologist-spies, codebreaking, mapping and running agents, and with expe...

  • Arnhem: Battle for the Bridges

    Operation Market Garden was the Allied operation to end the Second World War by Christmas 1944. The brainchild of Bernard Montgomery, it involved the combined use of airborne and armoured divisions carving a path through the Netherlands, securing several vital bridges, bypassing the formidable Si...

  • Arnhem For Ever: A Pilgrimage

    75 years ago, Allied Airborne units landed in the Netherlands. Their objective: capture the main bridges across the Rhine and its neighbouring rivers, a vital part of Montgomery's audacious plan to end World War Two by Christmas. Although a combination of bad luck and poor planning quickly doomed...

  • Avi Shlaim on the Balfour Declaration

    Avi Shlaim is Emeritus Professor of International Relations at St Antony's College, Oxford. Here he discusses the background and implications of the historic Balfour Declaration of November 1917.

  • A Welcome to Britain

    An informative film made for American troops travelling to Britain, letting them know what to expect and advising them on how to behave. The film covers varied subjects, from the humble British pub, to rationing, to the treatment of black British servicemen.

  • Battlezone: World War Two

    2 seasons

    A series of archive films documenting stories from the many combat theatres of World War Two. From Stalingrad to New Britain.

  • Blitzkrieg! The Fall of France

    Just before dawn on 10 May 1940 the largest concentration of motorised vehicles in history roared into action. After months of quiet it was the start of Hitler’s invasion of the West. What followed was a stunning combination of new tactics and new technologies that left Britain and France – two w...

  • Broadway Tower: A Folly of Delight and Daring

    High on the peak of the Cotswolds stands one of the most remarkable buildings in Britain. Built as a folly in the final days of the 18th century, Broadway Tower sprung up during the height of the French Revolutionary Wars under the distracted watch of the architect James Wyatt. In the following y...

  • By The Winter Sea

    Short film following the story of Ada, a young woman from London who becomes a land girl in coastal Lincolnshire during the Second World War.

  • China's Forgotten War: Behind the Documentary

    If the standout documentary from our East Meets West season, 'WW2: China's Forgotten War' has left you wanting more then don't miss this companion interview with Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford. Mitter, who presents the documentary an...

  • Coronavirus: Lessons From History

    In the past few months more than a billion people have faced restrictions unlike any seen before. Shops are closed; the death toll is rising; people across the globe have been forced to rise to an extraordinary challenge. But it is important to remember that humans have experienced pandemics befo...

  • D-Day 75
    1 season

    D-Day 75

    1 season

    6th June, 1944, the Allies embark on the liberation of Europe. Explore the events of Operation Overlord with our specially selected documentaries.

  • Doctor Under Fire: The Extraordinary 75 Year Career of Dr William Frankland

    Over the course of his 106 years, Doctor William Frankland has experienced more than most. He served with the Royal Medical Corps during World War Two, spending more than three years as a prisoner of war of the Japanese following the fall of Singapore. After the war, his medical career focused on...