Re:View – Andrew Marr’s History Of Modern Britain
The problem of looking at history you can recall (or have heard about from your folks) is that you probably don’t feel you want to see it rehashed as a TV series or a book. Your memories, you think, are enough to remind you of the grimness/ mistakes of the past. But Andrew Marr adds something new; a clear-eyed, unsentimental viewpoint that makes you think twice about what you remember. He has now covered the entire 20th century on DVDs and in books, and while his choices are inevitably selective, he’s attuned to the flow of history, reminding us of what was important and why.
One of the big surprises, watching these beautifully crafted TV documentaries (together with his pre-war set ‘The Making Of Modern Britain’) is how fractious and un-special our special relationship with the US has been. The UK was both crippled and helped by the US in equal measure, and in concentrating on this to the exclusion of all else turned its back on Europe – so it shouldn’t have been a shock when DeGaulle refused the UK entry into the Common Market.
Skipping the TV-friendly soundbites and concentrating only on the relevant, Marr covers the scandals and political skulduggery with honesty and fairness. This is mainly a political history rather than a social one, because society stems from the politics that drives it. Not a frame of film is wasted, and I’ll now buy the books for fuller analysis. If you missed them on TV, treat yourself to the set – they should be made compulsory viewing.