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A new history in 10 parts of the global conflict which shaped the 20th century, produced by Wark Clements for Channel 4 and Southern Star.

Genres: War
Station: Channel 4 (UK)
Rating: 4/10 from 2 users
Status: Ended
Start: 2003-09-20

The First World War Season 1 Air Dates


S01E01 - To Arms! Air Date: 20 September 2003 20:00 -

This program deals with the causes and outbreak of World War 1. There is some interesting material and on a number of occasions different perspectives about the causes of the war. The national politics of Europe are discussed in the context of competing Empires. The assassination of Austria's heir is described and discussed at some length. An interesting outline and discussion of the outbreak of war follows. The earliest actions of the war are outlined.


S01E02 - Under the Eagle Air Date: 27 September 2003 20:00 -

Examining the early months in the war - which were mobile and fast as well as dangerous - in contrast to the later years of trench warfare. The documentary also looks at the origins of the trenches at the Battle of the Marne, and explores the German regime in occupied countries.


S01E03 - Global war Air Date: 04 October 2003 20:00 -

The global impact of the conflict, assessing Britain's efforts to save India from invasion by boosting the Allied forces with native troops as well as soldiers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


Plus, an investigation into the high mortality rate among black soldiers, many of whom joined the French offensives in Europe.


S01E04 - Jihad Air Date: 11 October 2003 20:00 -

How the Ottoman Empire became a major force on the German side, tying up Entente troops across the Middle East and forcing the British into a humiliating defeat at Kut, south of Baghdad. Many Turks saw the war as an opportunity to win back lost lands and hoped it would be the first step toward establishing a new empire. Also examined is the impact of the call for a jihad against the Allies, issued from a Constantinople mosque in November 1914.


S01E05 - Shackled to a Corpse Air Date: 18 October 2003 20:00 -

The conflict on the Eastern Front, which saw soldiers battle for years in harsh conditions, enduring avalanches and frostbite, as well as relentless enemy action across terrain from the Urals to the Alps. Both sides came close to achieving total victory, but faced many of the horrors of 20th-century warfare, including chemical weapons and the mass expulsion of civilians.


S01E06 - Breaking the Deadlock Air Date: 25 October 2003 20:00 -

The Somme and Verdun saw carnage on an unprecedented scale, as armies fought to break the stalemate on the Western Front. Stalemate; attrition; lions led by donkeys; the slaughter only ceasing for a brief truce one Christmas - these are the conventional views of the Western Front and this episode brings a fresh new appraisal of the conflict in Europe. There was constant tactical evolution on the Front - not a stalemate, but innovation and counter-innovation. It was here that German storm troopers evolved. Artillery was the key weapon of the war - not the machine-gun or the tank, and the trenches were not big killers but in fact saved many lives. The generals did not skulk in chateaux, but over two hundred were killed in action. There were many little truces all along the Western Front, not just one Christmas. However, prisoners on both sides were killed by their captors.


S01E07 - Blockade Air Date: 01 November 2003 21:00 -

The evolving naval and intelligence war during the First World War, which saw enemy submarines turn the North Sea into a no-go area. The British responded with a blockade of Europe, and America threw its full support behind the Allies after a deciphered telegram revealed Germany was urging Mexico to attack the United States.


S01E08 - Revolution Air Date: 08 November 2003 21:00 -

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The wartime employment of spies, blockades and intelligence-gathering, which proved just as important as battleships at a time when governments faced continuing risks of mutiny, low morale, strikes and civil disobedience.


Agents were sent to create unrest among the enemy, including the British-sponsored Arab Revolt led by Lawrence of Arabia, and Germany's support of Irish independence by supplying arms for the Easter Rising.


S01E09 - Germany's last gamble Air Date: 15 November 2003 21:00 -

The penultimate episode explores Germany's bid to end the conflict by launching Kaiserschlacht, a massive offensive on the Western Front, masterminded by General Erich Ludendorff. Within days the British Fifth Army was in retreat, Paris was under shellfire and defeat seemed inevitable. However, the plan ran out of steam as supplies and strategic options dried up and German troops became war-weary, hungry and demoralised.


S01E10 - War without end Air Date: 22 November 2003 21:00 -

The last episode charting the final months of the First World War, which saw the Allies learning to pull together using a coordinated command structure and the mass-production of hi-tech weapons, while the Germans remained on French soil, believing victory to be inevitable.

The dramatic Allied victory at Amiens led to victory in just 100 days - and the signing of a bitterly-resented peace, while other nations stumbled towards their own ceasefire agreements.

The First World War Actors

Jonathan Lewis(Narator)



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