Over the course of just 12 months, propertied women over the age of 30 were given the right to vote for the very first time, the Armistice was signed bringing World War One to a close, the RAF was formed and the influenza pandemic, known as Spanish Flu, swept across the world infecting an estimated 500 million people.
A century on, as a culmination of the BBC’s ambitious four years of programming for the World War One centenary, the BBC will mark this major turning point with a compelling range of content across television, radio and online, collaborating with 14-18 NOW on major projects and with partners including Imperial War Museums, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Wellcome Trust and others across the UK.
Through live events, presenter-lead series, testimony-driven documentaries, digital content and a range of collaborations, the programming will explore the political, cultural and social shifts which would set the agenda for the next 100 years and shape the world as we know it today.
The Year of History won’t just look back: the past century of change will be used to explore modern society, highlighting some of the most pressing issues of today, from the role and status of women, to the impact of conflict on mental health, and the fight to combat new epidemics.
With over 80% of the UK population having consumed the BBC’s World War One Centenary commemoration coverage, 2018 will be the culmination of four years of coverage and 2,500 hours of content. Much of it will be made available online as a legacy of one of the largest scale projects commissioned in the BBC’s history.
There will be content across the BBC’s local, National and global outlets, with the English Regions highlighting local stories, a range of new commissions from the Nations and programming broadcast on the World Service. Schools will also be able to access new materials to complement the curriculum, allowing students to uncover more about one of the most turbulent years in British history in the 20th century that still has a resonance in the present day.
Among the highlights, there will be a new drama documentary The Last Hundred Days looking at the closing few turbulent months of World War One, while BBC Four will delve deep inside an extraordinary treasure trove of survivor testimonies, much of it previously unheard, from the last survivors from World War One, in the three-part series Britain’s Great War: The People’s Story.
Lucy Worsley will tell the story of how universal suffrage was achieved in How Women Won The Vote on BBC One while throughout the year Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 will celebrate the achievements of the suffragists and suffragettes and a 18 in 2018 cohort – a group of young women eligible to vote for the first time this year – will explore some of the key issues facing women today.
In collaboration with Wellcome Trust, there will be a new BBC Two documentary to reveal the most comprehensive record of what happened in the UK when the 1918 influenza pandemic, known as Spanish Flu swept across the world, while Ewan and Colin McGregor take to the skies on BBC One in some of the world’s most iconic planes to celebrate 100 years of the RAF.
Tony Hall, Director-General, BBC says: “We see 2018 as our chance to inspire a new generation with extraordinary stories of courage and sacrifice. Over the last three years, events staged by 14-18 NOW, and programming broadcast on the BBC, have moved us in our millions and I hope through our Year of History, we can galvanise even more people. 2018 gives us the chance to look back – and to shine a light on who we are today.”