New Elizabethans

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History Documentary hosted by Andrew Marr, published by BBC in 2020 - English narration

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Image: New-Elizabethans-Cover.jpg

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Andrew Marr looks at the extraordinary change during the Queen's reign, selecting a diverse and fascinating range of 'New Elizabethans' who helped shape the nation we have become.

[edit] Ch1. Building a New Society

Andrew Marr examines the way Britain went from a rigid, deferential, hierarchical, patriarchal and class-obsessed society in the 1950s toward a more liberal, inclusive, egalitarian society in the latter part of the Queen's reign. It is the story of the permissive society, of changing attitudes toward homosexuality, sexuality, gender and race, of a breaking down of class barriers and the growing equality won by women in the workplace.

But it isn't an unfettered story of positivity and progress. Many liberties have been won at a cost and in the face of fierce criticism. This programme takes in both sides of that debate: the liberal victories of the 'permissive society' as well as the ferocious backlash of middle England at the perceived erosion of family values.

It is a film that delves into some unexpected stories - all of which shine a light on a society in flux. Andrew sees how Nancy Mitford's light-hearted guide to the difference between upper-class and vulgar language sounded the death knell of an old world. He sees how a former cavalry officer, who reported the conquest of Everest by Hillary and Tenzing in 1953, proved a harbinger of perhaps the most radical change of the era as James Morris became Jan Morris - historian, journalist and a pioneering transgender role model for the new Elizabethan age.

Andrew also looks at the divergent lives of two women who made us confront our attitudes to gender, sexuality and power - movie starlet Diana Dors and wannabe movie starlet Ruth Ellis, who achieved fame of a completely different kind. And Andrew also sees how social upheaval – breaking class barriers and social/sexual taboos alike – was championed in Westminster by the likes of Roy Jenkins, reflected on our television screens and theatres by performers like Graham Chapman and rejected in the heart of middle England by moral crusaders like Mary Whitehouse.

[edit] Ch2. A Brave New World

Andrew looks at the way in which a colourful collection of New Elizabethans have sought to come to terms with Britain's decline as a world power since 1952, to project British values and influence abroad, and to ensure Britain's ongoing relevance at a time when so much seems to be slipping away. How have we coped with the loss of empire, American cultural and political hegemony, and the rise of a consolidated European superstate? These are issues that the British have wrestled with since the Queen ascended the throne in 1952, and which continue to divide and occupy us to this day.

Andrew Marr explores how Britain - a highly militarised nation with a vast standing army and formidable navy in 1952 – saw her power and influence crumble. Britain emerged from the Second World War broke, vastly in debt to the United States, and with an empire that was vanishing fast. Over the next 50 years, we lost an empire and gained a commonwealth, we fought to maintain our position and influence as a nuclear power, even as our armed forces were decimated by cuts, and we saw our society transformed by immigration, from the workplace to the high street.

It is the story of how we replaced hard military power with soft cultural power. How the sun began to set on the British empire, casting a rapidly lengthening shadow. And how we struck an uneasy alliance with American influence, cherishing the special relationship whilst agonising over the Americanisation of British society and values. Likewise, the reign of Elizabeth II has seen an uneasy flirtation with Europe as we embraced the sights, sounds and tastes of the continent - from food and wine to cheap holidays in the sun - but remained critically divided over membership of the political and economic club.

New Elizabethans profiled include familiar figures like Earl Mountbatten of Burma, cookery writer Elizabeth David and singer and activist Bob Geldof, as well as less familiar figures like Colonel Colin 'Mad Mitch' Mitchell and pioneering peace campaigner Helen John.

[edit] Ch3. Made in Britain

Andrew looks at one of the greatest challenges faced by modern Elizabethans: the loss of Britain's manufacturing heartlands and the surprising impact it has had on the state of the nation. To tell this story, he selects a rich cast of characters who have - in his estimation - responded to the challenges and found ingenious ways of adapting to the changing industrial landscape.

When the Queen ascended the throne in 1952, the country she inherited could still be defined by its manufacturing bases: Sheffield steel, Cornish tin, Welsh coal and Clyde-built ships. Britain in 1952 was, after all, still one of the workshops of the world, if no longer the primary one. Manufacturing accounted for a third of everything that Britain produced, and employed around four in ten of all British workers. Britain turned out a quarter of the entire world's manufacturing exports. But over the next 40 years, all that would change.

For Andrew, the decline in Britain's heavy industries has had a critical impact in shaping the nation we have become. He investigates the various reasons behind it, arguing that it is not down to a lack of talent. From Christopher Cockerell to Clive Sinclair, the New Elizabethans have demonstrated extraordinary imagination and innovation, even if this hasn't always been successfully capitalised upon.

But this is not a story of failure - it's a story of adaptation. Andrew shows how over the course of the Queen's reign, we Elizabethans have learnt from the lessons of the past. He looks at how inventors like James Dyson have built up billion-pound empires, and, crucially, he examines how the British brand has become about more than motorcars and machines: as our heavy industries of old have declined, we have found other industries and other exports, like the songs of Dusty Springfield or the buildings of Zaha Hadid. He argues that British culture and creativity have become perhaps our most valuable assets, from advertising and architectural design to music and monarchy.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x265 CABAC Main@L4
  • Video Bitrate: CRF 22 (~2581Kbps)
  • Video Resolution: 1920x1080
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frame Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC
  • Audio Bitrate: 128Kbps CVBR 48KHz (213Kbps peak)
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Run-Time: 3 x 59 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 1 (3 chapters)
  • Part Size: 3.38 GB
  • Source: HDTV
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

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