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The World at War (BFI TV Classic)


Taylor Downing discusses a landmark in British factual television, examining its style, ethos, accuracy and its legacy.

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40 years after it was first broadcast on ITV, The World at War remains the most influential and renowned history programme ever produced by British television: an examination of the cataclysmic events of the second world war, featuring archival footage, eyewitness accounts, a powerful narration read by Laurence Olivier and haunting music by Carl Davis. The 26-part series took more than two years, a production team of 50, and a cost of £800,000, to make (the equivalent to about £12 million today). But the epic scale of its production was more than matched by its impact. Attracting audiences of up to 10 million in 1973 – as well as winning a plethora of awards – it has ever since been regularly screened around the world, with sales of VHS and DVD copies making it one of the highest selling factual TV series. In this latest BFI TV Classics book, TV producer and writer Taylor Downing takes a critical look at The World at War, exploring among other things: the style of the series; the ethos of the series to tell the story of ordinary people caught up in the war rather than a story of military campaigns told by generals and admirals; the many claims made at the time about the accurate use of black and white and colour archive film in the series; the contested claims that the series is definitive; and its legacy for television history. Downing's fascinating study includes interviews with the series producer, Jeremy Isaacs, and the other programme makers and researchers, as well as original research gathered from the archives of Thames Television, the Independent Broadcasting Authority, the papers of Jeremy Isaacs, the production records at the Imperial War Museum, and the press response to the series at the time of first transmission and since. Downing's insightful study is fascinating reading for anyone with an interest in the monumental television production."

Additional Information
More Information
SKU 9781844574834
Author(s) Taylor Downing
Subtitle BFI TV Classic
Product contents <p>Preface 1 The Time 2 History on Television 3 ITV 4 The Decision 5 Announcement 6 The Treatment 7 Format 8 The Team 9 Music and Words 10 Production 11 Content 12 The Holocaust 13 Conclusions 14 Aftermath Notes Credits Bibliography Index</p>
Publisher(s) BFI Publishing, Palgrave Macmillan
Format Paperback
Original publication date 19/11/2012
Number of pages 192
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