Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain


Andrew Marr presents a history of Britain from the end of the Second World War to the start of the third millennium

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Episode Description


Advance Britannia

Andrew Marr revisits Britain in 1945 and finds the country victorious but badly beaten up and nearly bankrupt. With astonishing archive and telling anecdote, he tells the story of Britain's extraordinary struggle for national and cultural survival in the post-war world. As the newly elected Labour government sets out to build 'New Jerusalem', Britain is forced to hold out the begging bowl in Washington. Back in Britain, Ealing Studios attempts to hold back the tide of Hollywood with a series of very British comedies. There is a spirit of hope and optimism in the air but the shortage of consumer goods and the British people's growing impatience with austerity threaten to take the country from bankruptcy to self-destruction. A stirring story of Britain's battle against the odds to retain its world power status.


The Land of Lost Content

The second programme in the series explodes the popular image of the 1950s as a golden age of order and prosperity, and of lost content. A Conservative government is back in power. The economy appears to be improving. New homes are being built, the age of mass car ownership is dawning and people have money in their pockets. But 1950s Britain isn't as calm as it looks, or as strong.


Paradise Lost

Andrew Marr examines the age of Harold Wilson's classless society; a country excited by new technology, modern architecture and the scary futurism of Doctor Who. Wilson attempted to connect with the 60s spirit of progress by conjuring up the image of a future driven by science and the white heat of technology. But while the swinging sixties unleashed dreams of a fairer, liberated future, the Wilson governments presided over years of industrial conflict, stagnation and decline.



Andrew Marr revisits the Britain of Margaret Thatcher and comes to some surprising conclusions about the British national character. Promising to restore order, confidence and national pride, Margaret Thatcher unleashed a dramatic and divisive transformation of British society. In a period of extreme ideological polarisation, British identity was re-defined by the global market, and striking miners and sections of the Trade Union movement were demonised as the enemy within. Imperial visions stirred again as the fleet sailed for the Falklands. Having won power with the promise to restore traditional British values, the Thatcher government unleashed a whirlwind of privatisation and de-regulation that amounted to a cultural, economic and political revolution. Heroic national rescue operation or final act of self-destruction?


New Britannia

In the final part of Andrew Marr's epic national saga, Britain enters the uncharted waters of the post-Thatcher era. Many have done well during the Thatcher years but now boom is turning to bust. Britain feels more vulnerable than ever to rapid international change - from the influence of powerful new global market forces to global warming. Just when many in post-war Britain are getting used to the good things in life, it seems we are going to have to start giving up our big cars and foreign holidays - or at least go back to some form of rationing. But who could persuade us to do this? Churchill had that kind of power in the 1940s, but which politician would we trust and follow today?