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Customer Review

on 14 November 2010
We are all familiar with the superb historical BBC productions put together by Mr Wood , and this i believe is his ninth BBC production , and amazingly all his research concentrates on a single small Leciestershire village.

The research undertaken obviously with a great deal of assistance from his production crew was simply staggering and all the information was factually accurate taken mostly from archival documentation located at various Oxford colleges as well as the Leicestershire archive services.

To be able to compile each episode concentrating on one defining point in England's long history and then bring together totally accurate documentation to make the past spring to life is impressive, but what is most remarkable is that Michael makes each episode compelling viewing for both qualified academic and layperson who has little or no knowledge of local history, that is the work of a true master of his craft.

Combining together the past two thousand years of history of one little village in the heart of England and not for one instance throughout the entire production throw in a piece of evidence or hearsay that cannot be backed up by solid historical fact is testimony to Michael's brilliance as a historian.

Ive enjoyed all his productions for the past thirty and more years but this "Story of England" has left me spellbound with its sheer quality of research and narrative.

It was obvious why he chose Kibworth simply because the historical documentation and architectural background available for this small community is amongst the most complete in the whole of England , with documentation going back to the late 13C and almost every century afterwards.

The medieval field systems right through the centuries have the names of their owners ploughed through every grain of soil for antiquity, we know them all in Kibworth , and also those unfortunates who left their vacant plots of land unattended during the Great Plague and Black Death.

That episode on agriculture with known names of families who owned each strip of land as well as the tithes they had to pay was beautifully researched , and then the analysis of known families who had the prosperity and hindsight to buy up vacant plots of land , allowing them in time to become great landowners was impressive, and all this from one patch of land in the heart of Englands agricultural belt..

It was Michael's addictive enthusiasm that made a remote hedged field in the middle of Englands countryside come to life, and we are indeed fortunate to have records to bring this little part of England to life.

We almost began to know them personally these poorly paid labourers who struggled to make an existence in times of plenty and famine, their names are real and they have not died unrecognised like so many before and after them.

For those that remember the episode of the fallen tree that had survived for centuries marking the field boundaries and meeting place for villagers and mentioned in the Kibworth chronicles, and then lo and behold the last remaining remnant horribly scared with age and saved by a knowlegable resident is pure Michael Wood magic.

He obviously knew the tree fragment existed but the look of amazement when the proud owner showed it to him was infectious.

I am sure many of us will have learnt about the Agricultural Revolution with Turnip Townsend and such like in school but the information Micheal was coming up with was breathtaking and showing us the ancient documents based at Oxford relating to Kibworth throughout the centuries right through the Great Plague, Agricultural Revolution, Industrial Revolution up to the present was for those interested in history of this period awe inspiring.

Kibworth bacame involved in Englands defining moment with the English Civil War between King Charles 1 and Cromwells Parliamentarians with the deciding battle of Naesby almost on the villages doorstep.

For a battle lasting a little over 180 minutes Naesby meant the end of the Royalist struggle and British political history would never be the same again, Parliament was now sovereign and all decisions effecting the United Kingdom came from Parliament and not the Crown.

Yes Kibworth has seen it all over the centuries and its location in central Englands Leicestershire countryside has put it at the centre of most of Englands past struggles.

I must apologise if i am becoming too repatative in my praise for this remarkable series but when praise is due it must be given.

I just cannot remember when a series as well researched and presented as this one came on to the BBC, and it will be some time to come before anyone equalls this series for interest and production value.

Every episode was beautifully researched and involving the entire community right down from the school children to their parents was pretty special and made the history more interesting and personal.

One felt that it could have been their own community that was being dug up by archaeologists with the almost unique discovery of a particular type of Saxon pottery for that area of Leciestershire being a highlite of that particular episode.

This series had a bit of everything with history dating from Roman artifacts right through the Saxon Dark Ages and Norman Motte and Bailley Castle and throughout every century.

Michael Wood must be heartedly commended for producing what was alongside David Dimblebys "Seven Ages of Britain" one of the finest historical series shown on the BBC for many many years.

With all the disappointing rubbish now available on digital television at least the BBc can be relied upon to give us top quality entertainment.

Granted this kind of television is not to everyones likeing but for the many viewers who love history programmes and series involving research Michael Wood can be relied upon to give us quality television the kind that justifies our expensive tv licence.

There are few people the BBc can trust to produce amazing television.

David Attenbourough, David Dimbleby and most certainly Michael Wood are amongst those who apparently can do no wrong.

I defie anybody to show worthy criticism of any production produced by the above gentlemen.

They are all household names who without question can guarantee a prime slot on national television with every series they have produced.

Having one television series on the BBC to your name is quite something but these men have given us guaranteed quality over many years.

The only problem now is how can Michael Wood surpass this stroke of genius ? I think he may have a big problem on his hands.
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