Category Archives: videos

Andrew Marr’s ‘the Making of Modern Britain’

Andrew Marr

Andrew Marr

I’ve been watching this series over the past few weeks, and with the final instalment due this week I thought I would give my views on it so far. And, with the benefit of iplayer, you can go back and watch the previous episodes too.

Andrew Marr was until 2005 the BBC’s political Editor, so it is perhaps not surprising that this series takes a strong emphasis on politics, and especially the high politics of ‘great men’ and statesmen. It broadly looks at how Britain has developed as a nation in the first half of the twentieth century. While the title of the series does seem to suggest that Marr believes the Britain we know today was shaped by events circa 1900 to 1950, personally I see this as a very simplistic view. While those turbulent 50 years were perhaps the most pivotal in the nations development, what marks them out is the sheer amount of change and climactic events that took place. It is wrong to suggest that nothing prior to 1900 really mattered. British roots go back hundreds of years. It does, however, make great use of archive footage, and some interesting – but also expensive looking – location shooting. And Marr is a dynamic and engaging presenter.

In a New Dawn Marr argues that following the death of Queen Victoria, the short Edwardian era was akin to a late summer heatwave, but with tensions under the surface, and stormclouds gathering far on the horizon. With the difficult Boer War, signs were already appearing that Britain was struggling to maintain her Empire.

Road to War focusses on the years immediately prior to the first world war. Tensions over Ireland and calls for votes for women. The Chancellor, David Lloyd George, faced a choice between funding warships or extending welfare. The politics, culture and popular opinion of Europe seems to have made war inevitable.

In the Great War Marr looks at the story of Kitchener’s Army – the largest force that Britain has ever fielded in war. This episode is perhaps the best in the series. An honest focus on real, ordinary people, using the politics and the high command as a framework. The resignation of the First Sea Lord, the shell scandal, little known stories of German warships shelling the east coast, the great social cost of millions of men dead or mained, and the upheaval caused by the changing of so many social roles. This, Marr argues, was the start of ‘Big Government’.

Having a Ball witnesses a stark contrast with the Great War. It focusses on art, society, culture, writing, sex and drugs. And while this might be story of the landed classes and the artistic circles in the 1920′s, it does rather put the working people in the shade. As if what happens on a bohemian country pile has much effect on the millions of working people in Britain, many of whom were taking part in the General Strike and suffering under the effects of the Wall Stree Crash. I think Marr got the emphasis wrong here, almost ‘bolting-on’ the social history of the decade to story of decadence and art.

Little Britain sees Britain in the early 1930′s, on the road once again to a world war. Marr makes the interesting, and I have to say, accurate metaphor between British society and hats. Bowlers, trilbies, top hats and flat caps, all marking a strata of society. This is more focussed on people, rather than high society, with a look at Gracie Fields and Billy Butlin. We see how the Blackshirts of Oswald Mosley failed to take hold in Britain – dammed un-British, we are led to feel – and the little known group called the Greenshirts – who? – offered a solution to the national crisis. By Little Britain, Marr argues that Britain had shrunk back into itself, almost pulling up the Drawbridge, and it is hard to argue otherwise.

All in all, it is a fascinating series. Perhaps the overall tone, and the limited scope offered by the title does lead Marr to simplifications. Is this a social history or a political history, a ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’ view? I dont think Marr would know either, its not really a combination but a bi-polar portrayal. Never the less, it is very well written and presented, with some good research evident. There arent enough History programmes on TV, and the ones that are are usually bland and uninspiring. Hopefully this series encourages people to think.

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Filed under debate, News, On TV, politics, social history, videos, World War One, World War Two

Youtube picks

Soldier Set for Miss England

New target system for Apache

Cold War – the Berlin Wall

Biffy Clyro – The Captain

And for more historical videos and music, check out the Daly History Youtube Channel

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Filed under Afghanistan, Army, cold war, maritime history, Music, On TV, videos

Fort Nelson revamp goes off with a bang

A £2 million revamp of Fort Nelson, near Portsmouth, got off to an explosive start yesterday.

The Fort, home of the Royal Armouries collection of Artilley and Cannons, is a nineteenth century Palmerston fort, on the crest of Portsdown Hill.

The first phase involved the demolition of a post-war cottage, in fitting fashion by a Sexton armoured vehicle.

The demolition is the first stage of a major revamp at the Royal Armouries Museum – home to the national collection of artillery and historic cannon – and will see enhanced visitor facilities, galleries and state-of-the-art education facilities.

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Filed under Architecture, Army, Museums, News, videos

Site news: Daly History Youtube Channel

Hi all, Just a quick note to introduce you to my new video channel on Youtube.

I will be using it to highlight interesting videos that I find, and also in the near future to upload some videos of my own.

It could be found by clicking the link below, or the one in the sidebar to the right

Daly History Youtube Channel

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HMS Coventry at War

I’ve found this cracking documentary on youtube. It was originally screened a few years ago, and is based on the diaries of HMS Coventry’s Captain, David Hart-Dyke. It deals with all of the major episodes of the war, from the sinking of HMS Sheffield to when HMS Coventry finally sank. Its gripping stuff indeed.

HMS Coventry at War – Part 1

HMS Coventry at War – part 2

HMS Coventry at War – part 3

HMS Coventry at War – part 4

HMS Coventry at War – part 5

HMS Coventry at War – part 6

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Filed under Falklands War, Navy, videos

Mark Knopfler – Brothers in Arms

I’ve found this video on youtube. Its of Mark Knoplfer, who recorded a special Falklands Anniversary edition on the classic Dire Straits song Brothers in Arms.

Its a very fitting video, featuring original footage from 1982, and showing veterans returng to the Islands 25 years later. Knoplfers lyrics, vocals and guitar playing fits perfectly. Its a very nice tribute.

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Filed under Falklands War, Music, Remembrance, videos

Al Murray’s Road to Berlin

Al Murrays Road to Berlin

Al Murray's Road to Berlin

Most people probably know him as his Pub Landlord Character from ITV’s happy hour. I’m a big fan, I’ve seen his live show and met the guy. But out of character Al Murray is in fact a History Graduate from the University of Oxford. Even more interestingly, he is fluent in both French and German – not sure what the Pub Landlord would say about that!

A few years ago Al released a History series, entitled ‘Al Murray’s road to Berlin’. It follows the campaign to liberate Europe, from just before D-Day to VE Day in May 1945. Its a very well produced programme, originally screened on the Discovery channel and available on DVD. Finally, some kind of documentary on WW2, presented by someone with a good background in History, but also with the common touch!

Al travels from Portsmouth, across to Normandy, through France and Belgium and Holland, jumps into Arnhem to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden, and finally goes on to Berlin. He drives around the battlefield sites in an original WW2 Willy’s Jeep, in Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506 markings (Band of Brothers!).

What I really like, is that Al always interviews the normal people who took part in the battle, and doesnt wheel out Major-this or Colonel-that all the time, as some documentaries are prone to do. What is more interesting is that he is the son of a Lieutenant-Colonel, but you really wouldnt think so, which is very refreshing indeed. Aryeh Nusbacher was the Historical Consultant, who to be honest I’m not a fan of, but I reckon Al could have done it on his own anyway. I get the feeling that even if you didnt know much about WW2, you could still watch this and not find it too difficult to take it in, such is the accesible way that it is presented. A lot of so-called-Historians could watch this and take serious note.

I got this for my Birthday this year and its one of my favourite DVD’s. Heres hoping Al does some more History work eventually!

Click here to buy Al Murray’s Road to Berlin!

(l-r) Me, my brother, Al Murray

(l-r) Me, my brother, Al Murray


Filed under Army, On TV, videos, World War Two

Military Music

Any of you following my blog have probably noticed I’m a bit of a fan of military music… I’ve been browsing on youtube and found some videos – all British, I might add (and I include the Gurkhas in that, even if the politicians don’t). They’re all moving and inspiring in their own way.


Band of HM Royal Marines and Katherine Jenkins – theme from Band of Brothers

Band of the Royal Irish Regiment – Highland Cathedral

Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas – Zorba the Greek

Band of the Parachute Regiment – The Great Escape

Band of HM Royal Marines – A whole new world

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