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on 6 February 2014
I was really interested in finding out more details about our previous Prime Minister and who better than NR to narrate? Really enjoyable and informative.
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on 18 October 2014
Great service and product!
I'm quite satisfied - the product got to me on time and it met my expectations. I will shop with the seller again.
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VINE VOICEon 25 June 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was fortunate enough to hear most of these talks when they were originally aired upon BBC Radio 4 so, I took no risk in obtaining these CD's. Nick Robinson is one of those people who is clever enough not to need to prove it by either bamboozling, or patronising his audience. He talks knowledgeably about eight British prime ministers and I learned not just about the person, but about the evolution of the role of prime minister through the ages.

Please do not go away with the idea that these are 'worthy' discs: something to which one should listen but a bit of a struggle. Mr Robinson makes even the less interesting characters sparkle and playing these discs is a real pleasure.

You may be asking why, if I had already heard these programmes, I needed a CD version. The answer is simple: how does one control the door bell, one's dogs, the postman, etc.? So many distractions lead to a radio programme being only partially digested and this excellent CD set, which has already passed once through my machine - and will, over the months, spin upon numerous occasions, each time lodging a few more nuggets into the recesses of my brain, is an excellent means of ensuring that not a drop of this vocal nectar is wasted. I suspect that there is something within this set for anyone interested in British politics, from the complete beginner, to the expert. It may not be difficult in my case, but I am already a wiser man.
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VINE VOICEon 24 June 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The series is a review of the tenures in office of prominent British Prime Ministers of the modern era (approx 1715-1950). Nick Robinson gives pithy, concise and neat little illustrations on each prime minister which often include interviews with notable biographers, historians and former politicians. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Robinson was criticised in some quarters during the 2010 General Election for offering unnecessary opinion during live broadcasts but here such light and shade work adds the perfect amount of background colour. I just wish I'd had something like this to scaffold my A Level studies 20 odd years ago. Each 'segment' lasts around 10-15 minutes and although concise, it is perfect for an overview of the major events at the time and the challenges each man encountered. An ideal audio introduction to the 'great Prime Ministers' and an extremely useful aide to lead on to further reading.

The Prime Ministers are:
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VINE VOICEon 30 June 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is Nick Roberts at his analytical best. If you want to know about that curious breed known as British Prime Ministers, this is a fun way to find out. I studied 18th and 19th century history for A Level, and found some of these people were very dull as historical personalities. However, when Nick Robinson goes behind the public story, he brings out facts that I didn't know. He speaks in the classic BBC documentary tradition. This is biography-lite.

Each PM gets a quarter of an audio CD, and some I think got a bit more. The contributors know what they are talking about, and this has the feel of a serious BBC documentary in the classic Alistair Cooke Alistair Cooke's America, Professor Bronowsky The Ascent Of Man or James Burke Connections style. Whilst you get a few amusing moments, it is narrated by heavyweight politicians and historical experts.

It is curious that in places Nick is talking about "this table...", "this very billiard table..." - giving yiou the idea that this was meant to be a TV series with visuals, but the broadcasting history on the sleeve notes says that it went out on Radio 4 first and was last shown on BBC TV. I can't find a reference to a TV version on Amazon.co.uk or IMDB.com. So it's amazing what spin-doctors can do, eh?

Anyway, it is good listening, and I commend it to the House!
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VINE VOICEon 26 June 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It is not often that I wish something presented by Nick Robinson were longer, but this is one of those rare occasions. The fifteen-minute portraits of Walpole, North, Peel, Palmerston, Disraeli. Lloyd George, Baldwin and Attlee were interesting both for their content and their contributors (including Kenneth Clarke, Kenneth Baker, David Cameron, Tony Benn, Gordon Brown and Neil Kinnock), but they could naturally only scratch the surface and could each have had a whole hour to themselves. My strong impression on first hearing was that they were the soundtrack to a TV programme rather than made specifically for radio - opening with what sounds like a piece to camera from outside Number 10, for example, and Nick Robinson's voice echoing around the Central Lobby - but this did not interfere significantly with the narrative. Sometimes the similarities between historic and contemporary politicians seem overstated (Disraeli and Obama, for example) and converting issues of the time into modern ones, minimising the differences in context, can be mildly annoying. Despite that, this is an interesting and intelligent collection even if the more politically active might argue with many of its conclusions.
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VINE VOICEon 29 June 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a beautifully simple idea, well executed and fascinating on more levels than was intended (or maybe I do Nick Robinson a disservice, perhaps he is even cleverer than I thought). Basically all this is, is Robinson giving an account of the lives, achievements and failures of eight notable prime ministers from the first, Walpole, through to Clement Attlee. His histories are supplemented by various talking heads giving their views.

Where this account is particularly fascinating, and it seems to be one of Robinson's intentional themes, is the very strong sense of plus ca change. Through the ages we see prime ministers brought low by global economic crises beyond their control, we see liberal (with a small l) prime ministers jingo-istically becoming involved in unpopular foreign wars, we see democratic leaders frantically battling the power of ruthless unelected press barons.

One of the more depressing things about Robinson's series is the way in which it almost totally rubbishes any concept that the of majority politicians, or at least successful ones, have any concept of going into politics on the basis of their beliefs. New labour's pursuit of power for its own sake is nothing new. Indeed at one point, right wing Caian historian Andrew Roberts criticises Robert Peel for doing what was right against the vested interests of his own party.

Where these CDs are less successful is in the choice of the talking heads. Those chosen are of a similar political hue to their subjects. We get Kenneth Clarke, Kenneth Baker and others taking about tories and Neil Kinnock, Shirley williams and Roy Hattersley describing radicals. Thus the biographies can at times border on hagiographies rather than critical evaluations.

What is even worse is the appearance of (at the time of recording) serving politicians, frantically trying to draw parallels between themselves and their political heroes. Gordon Brown describing the uncharismatic, but great Attlee is bad enough, but is nothing beside the unedifying sound of old Etonian man of the people, David Cameron, doing everything but shout "me,me,me,me" while discussing the merits of Disraeli. It is maybe here that Robinson has been particularly clever in setting up those currently in power to reveal as much about themselves as about their subjects.

However, at the end of the day these CDs are the product of a BBC journalist, and as such are well worth a listen.
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VINE VOICEon 4 July 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Each programme in the series lasts for less than 13 minutes. Despite this, time is thrown away on introducing multiple experts, pointless music and trivia. It seems that the BBC has a terror of a single speaker relaying information in an intelligent and entertaining way. Such speakers undoubtedly exist - any experienced foreign correspondent could easily fill the time enjoyably (and is still, sometimes, allowed to do so), as could a raconteur like Bill Bryson or an expert broadcaster like David Attenborough. Evidently, however, someone decided that the subject of Prime Ministers was a 'hard' one, and had to be tarted up into something we poor saps could cope with. I've grown up, and would like that fact to be acknowledged. We have book readings which last half an hour, plays with a single voice which may last longer than that, which engage the attention without the need for bells or whistles because they contain interesting material which is well read - I'd like history dealt with in the same manner - at least where such a short time slot is allocated: if we must suffer gimmicks, then extend the programme. As it was, I could have got most of the information provided here from the DNB in a much shorter time, and with far less irritation. Very disappointing.
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on 22 December 2015
very happy
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