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

4.6 out of 5 stars 267 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • Simon Schama: A History of Britain - The Complete BBC Series [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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (267 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KHYKH2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,248 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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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

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excellent
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By vma on 16 April 2017
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Very good
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Educational and enjoyable.
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I enjoyed the first 1-2 episodes, but now I've grown very tired of this. It feels more like a monotonous monologue now. Many times you just have Simon speaking (in a quite dreary tone, in my opinion) with - I suppose - atmospheric, non-specific blurry images and generic music. So to me it basically feels like an audio podcast a lot of the time. I wish they had spent a lot more effort to show the actual locations in order to give a more rich impression.

I also have issue with the content. It's just too broad and shallow for me. It often seems misleading and not worth my time. I've been watching this in parallel with the Monarchy series by David Starkey since they are very similar in focus. I've just been watching the section on Charles II, James II, and William of Orange. What I gathered from Simon Schama is that Charles and James were basically catholic which the people didn't like, and so they asked William of Orange to come over and be the king. It's like street gossip. So basically I learnt nothing and I'm also confused. David Starkey, on the other hand, spends about 2 hours on these people, actually goes to the locations where battles happened, digs out books from the coronation of James II, for example, and overall, gives a proper beginners' understanding of what this was all about. Simon Schama will fill you full of useless general trivia, leaving you confused and guessing about what actually happened, while David Starkey treats you like a competent adult, while passionately telling you most of the things that mattered. Simon Schama will also occasionally tell you some other very general-knowledge trivia which is outside the scope of what David Starkey's series was trying to do, but I don't think you're missing much and I recommend Starkey's series over this one.

Basically I think this documentary series is cheaply made, shallow, and confusing.
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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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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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Simon Schama's monotone voice and matter of fact attitude bored me to tears, it was like listening to my apathetic history teacher at school. I need infectious enthusiasm to keep me interested, this doesn't have it.
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