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

 Exempt   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
Price: £15.54 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Simon Schama: A History of Britain - The Complete BBC Series [DVD] + David Starkey: The David Starkey Collection [DVD]
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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 (174 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KHYKH2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,957 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


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.


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 (

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! 21 Aug 2010
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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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent 24 Dec 2004
By Gadfly
I have just finished watching the entire series of Simon Schama's History of Britain which I thought magnificent. Through a marvellously evocative use of language, images and sound the series illustrates many of the key figures, forces and themes of British history from ancient times up to the modern era. One of Schama's great gifts is to make remote people and events seems startlingly fresh and contemporary with his insightful commentary and analysis. This is surely one of the best series the BBC has ever produced in any genre and I found the cumulative effect to be deeply moving. If you love history, you will not regret buying this series which will afford many hours of education and entertainment. Congratulations Simon Schama and the BBC!
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168 of 175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful series to spark further interest 15 Jan 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Simon Schama introduces here a compellingly personal take on British History, full of colour and drama, bringing characters like Edward Longshanks vividly to life. The White Ship Disaster seems devastating, the section on the Plague is truly disconcerting...Though not 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. After brief acclimatisation I was soon hooked by the sheer immediacy of his descriptions. 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.
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207 of 217 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Influential 6 Aug 2007
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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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History as it should be 19 April 2006
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.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Riveting 29 Jan 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love and still watching will need to see it several times to absorb.
Published 8 days ago by ALANC
5.0 out of 5 stars dvd
Published 8 days ago by kimbo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Something to watch over and over again - never tire of it!
Published 10 days ago by marilyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and Educational
This series arrived on time and in excellent condition having been well - packed. It is very watchable and highly educational at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Published 14 days ago by Ariadne
5.0 out of 5 stars ... yet watched full series but so far enjoying it-- excellent
Not yet watched full series but so far enjoying it-- excellent series
Published 15 days ago by Fellwalker
5.0 out of 5 stars Simon Schama does a spectacular job of delivering his viewpoint ...
Simon Schama does a spectacular job of delivering his viewpoint of British History. I was a little dismayed when he skipped over the Wars of the Roses and Richard III but a linear... Read more
Published 22 days ago by MR J D MCKENNA
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fascinating - I didn't realise there was so much I didn't know about Britain!
Published 28 days ago by Kate Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Nice item
Published 28 days ago by Paul G. Brewer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent series
Published 1 month ago by David
5.0 out of 5 stars Made a friend happy on their birthday ;-)
A birthday gift for a friend, who was delighted!
Published 1 month ago by Woo Woo
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