The best TV programmes for family historians this November

By Rosemary Collins, 1 November 2018 - 5:47pm

This month's TV listings feature several programmes marking the end of the First World War Centenary, including a BBC Four documentary presented by Huw Edwards

Huw Edwards We Will Remember Them First World War
Huw Edwards tells the story of the memorials to those who died during the First World War (Credit: Testimony Films)

Pick of the month

We Will Remember Them
Sunday 4 November, 8pm, BBC Four (repeated on BBC One Wales on Tuesday 6 November)

The sight of neat and well-tended rows of war graves in foreign fields is familiar by now. We rarely stop to wonder why so many British and Commonwealth soldiers are buried overseas.

In We Will Remember Them, Huw Edwards explains how this came about. The answer lies in the vision of Fabian Ware (1869-1949), a Red Cross officer on the Western Front. He created the Imperial (later Commonwealth) War Graves Commission in 1917.

His aim was that remembrance should be democratic. Those who fought together should rest together close to where they fell, no matter what their social rank.

This is illustrated by the story of William Parry, who fell in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge. For years his family laid a wreath on the anniversary of his death in the village chapel. However, for the centenary of his death his great niece travelled to Belgium to lay a wreath, an emotional occasion captured on camera.

Get more previews of this month's top TV in the November issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, on sale now


Also showing

Made in Great Britain
Friday 2, 9, 23 and 30 November, 9pm, BBC Two

The BBC Two series celebrating Britain's craft heritage continues, with the team discovering the chocolate factories of York, the potteries of Stoke-on-Trent, shoe making in Northampton and more.

Through a Lens Darkly
Wednesday 7 November, 9pm, PBS America

American artist and photographer Carrie Mae Weems realised early on that there was "really something wrong with the way the black subject had been imaged" in the media. Moving away from pictures that project racist distortions, this documentary shows other kinds of images, including photographs from family albums. It offers a far more nuanced window on African-American life in the past.

They Shall Not Grow Old
Sunday 11 November, 9pm, BBC Two

Following its premiere at the London Film Festival, the BBC will broadcast this ground-breaking First World War documentary. Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has carefully colourised archive footage, accompanied by interviews with former soldiers. The film is a truly remarkable experience, recreating the Western Front so vividly you'll feel like you're really there.

WW1's Secret Shame: Shell Shock
Monday 12 November, 9pm, BBC Two

War has a devastating effect on combatants' mental health. Here historian Dan Snow charts the history of how we have reacted to and treated battlefield trauma.

Bristol Scout
Monday 19 November, 9pm, PBS America

David Bremner's grandfather served as a pilot during the First World War. A century later his grandson, an engineer, sets out to build a replica of a Bristol Scout his forebear flew.

Britain's Great War: The People's Story
November, BBC Four (date and time TBC)

What was it like to live through the First World War? The People's Story gathers together eyewitness testimonies from both combatants and those who stayed at home to offer eyewitness perspectives on the conflict. Newly restored and remastered archive film helps to illustrate the testimonies of those who were there.

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