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Britain's Great War: TV Series advised by Pembroke Historian Dr Adrian Gregory

24th January 2014

Monday 27th January at 9pm sees the broadcast of the first in a series of BBC documentary pieces entitled Britain's Great War.  Pembroke Fellow in History Dr Adrian Gregory acted as historical advisor for this Jeremy Paxman interpretation of the First World War and its impact.  

Talking about the experience of involvement in the project Dr Gregory says "On the evidence of recent media coverage it seems to me that everyone in the United Kingdom already has a strong and unshakeable opinion about the First World War. So I am already bracing myself for the condemnation that is bound to follow when I am outed as the historical advisor. So why bother sticking my head above the parapet at all? Because I think that if there is going to be a major BBC 1 series on this subject then it I would rather try to influence what is being said than follow my usual procedure of watching it and screaming at the screen ‘that is just wrong…’"

He goes on, "I do think that in a narrow technical sense 1914 was a ‘just war’ but I am still troubled by issues of proportionality. On the other hand in some respects I am perhaps less critical of the High Command (although certainly not uncritical) and I would have liked a little more in the programme which acknowledged the fact that the British army ended the war having won a series of battles which broke German (and elsewhere Turkish and Austrian) resistance and in the process entered Northern France and Belgium to be greeted as liberators, (something almost completely ignored by the majority of commentators). Yet the series does at least try to capture the complexity of the war and its multiple significances."

Dr Gregory's own book on "The Last Great War: British Society and the First World War" (published 2008) is published by Cambridge University Press and is available to purchase online.