Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain is a five part 2007 BBC documentary series written by and presented by the popular British political commentator Andrew Marr, the series looks at the history of Britain in the period covering the end of the second world war onwards. Marr also published an accompanying book which covered the history of this period.
We have all five episodes of the series available to watch here on Documentary Vine, navigate between them via the numbered tabs beneath the video player or by using the episode titles below. Marr later wrote and presented a follow up series, Andrew Marr: The Making of Modern Britain, which covered British history from the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 to the end of the second world war in 1945.
The first episode covers the period 1945 to 1955, immediately post-war. The country was victorious but left bankrupt but the Labour Party led by Clement Atlee set out to build what was termed as the ‘New Jerusalem’, but it had to beg for money from Washington to do it and the population was running out of patience with austerity measures. Culturally there remained a spirit of hope and Ealing Studios produced a number of classic British comedy shows.
The second episode covers the period from 1955 to 1964 which was a period of relative calm and prosperity, but the population had a distrust of the government and were hungry for change. Political satirists and protesters began to mock the government.
The third episode covers the period 1964 to 1974 which saw a new Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, take centre stage in a rapidly changing country. The country embraced emerging technologies and looked towards a fairer and more liberal future, but the Wilson government did preside over years of industrial stagnation and decline. By the time Edward Heath’s government had taken over the countries industry was reduced to a three-day week and the population subjected to electricity rationing.
The fourth episode covers the period between 1974 to 1990, the Britain of Margaret Thatcher. It was a period of boom and bust and of extreme ideological polarisation between the right and the left, and it also saw the country return to war when it sent a fleet to liberate the Falkland Islands from its Argentine invaders. Privatisation and deregulation brought about an economic and social revolution, and still today people debate whether this was an act of heroic nation saving or an act of permanent self-destruction.
The fifth and final episode covers the post-Thatcher period, 1990 to 2007. Thatcher departed office just as the United Kingdom was entering into a serious recession although many had done well financially out of her tenure. Britain feels vulnerable to international change and new global market forces, as well as tightening union in Europe. The latter part of the episode deals with the emergence of Tony Blair and his ‘New’ Labour Party.
Andrew Marr also authored an accompanying book on the subject, also titled A History of Modern Britain, which swiftly became a number 1 Sunday Times bestseller. It was published by Macmillan and is available to purchase in paperback, hardback, kindle and audiobook formats.