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Simon Schama: A History of Britain - The Complete BBC Series [DVD]

4.5 out of 5 stars 233 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: PAL, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: 2 Entertain Video
  • DVD Release Date: 13 Nov. 2006
  • Run Time: 870 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KHYKH2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,418 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Bringing Britain's rich history to life, Simon Schama's unique storytelling describes the triumphs and trials of the monarchy, the effects of warring religions, the expansion of the empire and the decline of Britain as a world power. The story begins around 3100 BC and concludes in 1965. This DVD features the complete 15-part epic BBC series, presented on six DVDs in special edition packaging.

From Amazon.co.uk

What do you get when you combine the resources and ethos of the BBC with the literary panache of one of the world's best narrative historians? The answer is Simon Schama's History of Britain television series. In this well-written and thoughtfully crafted survey, Schama, the bestselling author of books on European cultural history such as The Embarrassment of Riches and Citizens, has managed to be both conventional and provocative. He tells the official version of Britain's story--Roman Britain, the Norman Conquest, the struggles of the Henrys and Richards, Elizabeth I, Scottish rebellions and the English Civil Wars, the American Revolution, the growth of the British Empire, Queen Victoria, the industrial age, and Winston Churchill. But while sticking to a script familiar to anyone who sat up and listened during history class, Schama brings it all alive with memorable prose and presence--Simon de Montfort's rebel parliament is described as inaugurating the "union between patriotism and insubordination"; with Henry VIII, Schama says, "you could practically smell the testosterone." Schama is also particularly enlightening on the symbolism of buildings, memorials, language, and ceremonies, and on the complex relations between England and its Celtic and Catholic neighbors. If history must have gloss, then let it be presented like this. --Miles Taylor (Amazon.com)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Really interesting and a great overview - after all, Schama has had to condense Britain's history into 15 hours. Hence, it does not claim to be a complete account of the country's past... (If this is at all possible - I would say it is not). So viewers should not expect this! Liked how it did include the Irish, the Welsh and the Scots, as well women's history. Not just the history of the male poltical elite. Found some episodes at the beginning a little bit hard to follow because I had zero prior knowledge of the period and the episodes were dealing with substantial chunks of time... But nonetheless it gave me a flavour of the how things were and hopefully next time I watch I will take more of the details in! All in all, I would throughly recommend it, Schama is charming and eloquent!!
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A History of Britain by Simon Schama was a pivotal work in television history. It, almost single-handedly, began the `historical documentary revival' of recent years. The seemingly endless series of popular history programs, particularly on Channel 4, owe a debt to this series. However you feel about those programs though, watching A History of Britain makes it is perfectly clear why this revival has been so popular.

Schama and the BBC planned A History... to be a return to the epic, fairly, high budget documentary series such as `Civilization'. They hoped it would receive a reasonable share of the audience. It became a runaway success popularising British history like no series had before. Applications to read history at university went up dramatically; it became the BBC's highest selling factual series on DVD.

So why was it such a success? It has to be down to Schama. His knowledge and intelligence are obvious. His passion for his subjects leaps of the screen. The series has been criticised for its sidelining, even omission, of many events and periods such as the Hundred Years War and the Norman kings after William the Conqueror. These criticisms, while not unfounded, are fairly silly. If the series had been a list of major historical events it would not have been so successful, in fact it would have been nigh-on unwatchable. To make it entertaining as well as informative it needed to be subjectively edited; and Schama did an excellent job of it.
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Format: DVD
Bored with the normal tedium of endless dates and names that follow on endlessly? Want to know how and why Britain was formed? If so, get this set of DVD's or indeed the books which pre-empted the TV series. It's fantastic. Schama is able to conjour up the most vivid images as he goes from one far corner of the British main land to another. The starting point of the series at Scara Brae are something which had never really been told of in any great detail. He put's meat on to the bare bones of the story of Britain. At one point he mentions a name from everybodies school memory, the venerable Bede. But he goes on to tell how that one persons accounts have led us to what we know about the so-called dark ages. This is a must, but as i said at the begining, try reading the 3 volumes first, they are fantastic.
Comment 43 of 45 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Simon Schama presents here a compellingly personal take on British History, full of colour and drama, bringing characters like Edward Longshanks vividly to life. He evokes with great immediacy the impact, for instance, of The White Ship Disaster on Henry Ist's court. The section on the Plague is truly disconcerting, as if it is still happening down the street...Though far from short on analysis, Schama's great strength is the immediacy of his presentation. The tone is at times admonishing and even confiding, as if he knows these figures personally. He makes no attempt to include all the kings, queens and battles, and doesn't aim to provide an exhaustive account of British history. I think he succeeds well, though, in finding threads of real significance through the two millennia covered, and brings it all to life with great panache. Various vital themes: the coming together of Norman and Saxon, the economic consequences of the plague and birth of the middle class, the Act of Union - the now questioned cornerstone of a once global empire -, the wonderful summing up of William of Orange, constitutional monarch, as 'chairman of the board' - it is all vividly presented and illuminates fascinatingly our own age.
Comment 174 of 184 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This is an astonishingly good series. The history and development of Britain through the lives of the power players, gentry, ordinary citizens, and peasants presented with great enthusiasm, intelligence, sensitivity and pathos by Simon Schama. His narrative and style of delivery always keeps your attention and is underpinned by one of the most effective and haunting music scores I have ever heard on TV.
This series should form the backbone of GCSE and A-level history in our schools. It certainly presents a more cogent and informative historical perspective of Britain in 15 hours than the years of 3rd rate history we get in schools.
I cannot recomment this DVD series highly enough.
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Format: DVD
The only thing better and more informative than this superb piece of quality BBC tv is the enormous audio book version. Take the Victorian era - you get 12 hours of fascinating history read by Timothy West in place of a couple of hours of tv time, and the whole series takes forever to listen to! The audio series is vast, detailed and even more enlightening and shows Simon Schama's depth of knowledge is even more immense than the tv series indicates!
But the tv series is good to start with and takes you through the history of the isles in a way that schools don't appear to. This is so important because if you don't know why the UK is the way it is, and how it got like that, you can't know where it's going. A History Of Britain ought to be repeated once in a while, but until it is I say buy this and learn what made this country the way it is.
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