Back in June of this year the BBC did a three part series about the Spanish Armada and how (astonishingly) England wasn't conquered by Spain in 1588. It was billed as "part dramatisation, part documentary" so I was a bit concerned in advance that it wouldn't be my cup of tea. But it turned out to be on the right side of the line for my tastes - a selection of set pieces but mostly a straightforward documentary series.
Cleopatra: A Timewatch Guide was on BBC4 back in February as part of a short run of programmes cobbled together from old Timewatch footage interspersed with some narration by a current presenter (and modern footage of talking heads) tying it all together. The presenter in this case was Vanessa Collinridge, who I'd not seen present anything before (which is a shame for her, as I'm judging her based on this ...).
The First Georgians: The Kings Who Made Britain was a series presented by Lucy Worsley which ties into an exhibition at Buckingham Palace this year to mark the 300th anniversary of George I taking the throne. The series (and presumably exhibition?) focussed on Georges I and II who are often overlooked a bit in the rush to get to George III and the madness and loss of the American colonies.
Dan Snow's History of Congo
Instead of starting TV night with our on-going series, we started with a documentary about Syria - watching it first because it was bound to be depressing viewing. A History of Syria with Dan Snow was a This World documentary that looked at the historical underpinnings of the current civil war, to put it into some sort of context.
Sarah Parcak is an archaeologist who uses satellite imagery to identify previously unknown ancient sites that might be worth excavating. We've seen her in a couple of programmes about Ancient Egypt, because she's discovered the probable sites of several new pyramids as well as some towns. Rome's Lost Empire was presented by Dan Snow and showed us the sites Parcak found when she used her technology to investigate the Roman Empire.
The fourth & last programme in Dan Snow's series about the British Navy talked about how we got from the total domination of the seas in the aftermath of Trafalgar, to the on or below par situation in the First World War.
The third episode of "Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World" started in the 1770s when the British had just made peace with the French, and went through to the aftermath of the Battle of Trafalgar (when the British again made peace with the French after a couple more wars).
The second episode of "Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World" started with the defeat of the English Navy by the French in 1690 - still one of the most humiliating defeats of the Navy. At this time the French were the dominant sea-going nation, and the programme covered the recovery of the Navy over the following 70 years until in 1759 it really could be said that Britannia ruled the waves.
Started TV night off last week with the first episode in a series we'd recorded back in February - "Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World". The theme of the series is the history of Britain over the last 400 years, seen through the lens of the Royal Navy.