I was visiting Birmingham when I happened to watch one of the episodes in the hotel TV. I had previously glimpsed another about English History (this DVDs are focused on the wider British History) and decided then and there that back in Spain I would buy the whole series. And I was not disappointed.
This progam was made to celebrate queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.
The underlying premise is that we are not very different from our ancestors, and that much of our present (well, the UK's situation) was won and gained by them, their labour, fights and work. Wood insists that Britain (including Ireland) was, and is, a melting pot of peoples from all sides of the world, and that has made Her stonger, richer, cleverer. For example, he devotes some footage to the presence of the "Moors", that is, the black servants or slaves that were common enough in London several centuries ago, and had a visible role in society. For Wood, everybody has a place in Britain and anybody has something to give to the commont project. I think that the music theme (the Rainbow from Wizard of Oz) is chosen to that end.
What I like most from this series is the way in which Wood introduces normal people into the facts of the narrative; the way in which the lessons learned in those times, the things that happened can also affect our times and what we can do about them and about our problems, our own crisis. This is also a characteristic of Wood, and could be seen in some of his other productions (i.E. the Trojan Wars).
Besides, one cannot praise enough the quality of the production, photography, music, use of historical sources, etc. But then these are characteristic BBC and Wood's. Nothing new, then, and that is very high praise.
This is a program that shows how to teach history, to make it lively, vivid and fun. And to use it to its true end, to help us know who we are. Of course, in such a short viewing time some things, even important ones have been left out, for example the Crusades, the 100 years war, the 30 years war, the Americas... but then this is a social history of the people, more than that of their leaders, even if they had great importance.