Over the past few weeks BBC One has served up an absolute gem in the shape of David Dimbleby’s Seven Ages of Britain.
Following on from Dimbleby’s A Picture of Britain and How We Built Britain, Seven Ages explores the history and shaping of our nation through the arts and treasures left behind by generations of our ancestors.
In this week’s episode (BBC One Sunday, 14th March) Dimbleby explores the Age of Empire, a period we too often allow ourselves to feel only shame over.
The episode moves from the stunning architecture of the Foreign Office through Cook’s journeys of discovery to the settlement of the new world and explores royalty as divinity, the adoption of the machine gun and defiance of native peoples in the face of overwhelming odds.
But, beyond the splendour of stunning paintings, architectural innovations and timeless beauty, one of the greatest delights about the series is Dimbleby himself.
Each week, whether he’s gazing on the UK’s gold stocks or piecing together a royal jigsaw, he shows limitless enthusiasm for the show’s subject matter. It’s a world away from today’s all too prevalent TV culture of celebrities fronting dumbed-down ‘factual’ shows on subjects they lack any reel feel or passion for.
The seventh and final episode airs next Sunday (21st March) but if you’ve missed this fantastic series here’s a great clip in which Dimbleby describes the historical significance of the Bayeux Tapestry. The entire run is available on the iPlayer for the next few weeks and comes to DVD next week.