Tim Pigott-Smith presents a unique audio snapshot of the history of the Twentieth Century. Released in ten volumes, Eyewitness provides a rare opportunity to hear the history of the 20th century described by those who were actually there. Tim Pigott-Smith weaves together fascinating reminiscences taken from the BBC archives – many previously unbroadcast – with an insightful commentary written by Joanna Bourke, Professor of History at Birkbeck College.
The century began with British troops at war in South Africa, and majors, colonels and privates recall their part in the action. The death of Queen Victoria led to the streets of London being lined with funeral spectators, and the subsequent coronation of Edward VII in 1902 lent the nation a mood of ‘lightheartedness, sparkle and glamour’. Meanwhile theatregoers and music hall audiences were being entertained by Henry Irving and Marie Lloyd.
A multitude of vox pops offer fascinating insights into life in the 1900s – the manners, fashion, discipline, religion, alcohol and sport. Voices of ordinary people are mixed with those whose names still resonate today: writer Compton Mackenzie, playwright Ben Travers, Marconi the radio pioneer, suffragette’s daughter Sylvia Pankhurst, and Violet Bonham-Carter.
Captivating, revelatory, thought-provoking and very often moving, these are the authentic voices of the past, speaking to the present.