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OU on the BBC: Timewatch - About the series

Updated Wednesday, 6th December 2006

Timewatch is the BBC's flagship history programme. Find out more about the series.

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The hand of a bog body Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

Timewatch is the BBC's flagship history show, broadcasting on BBC2 on Friday nights at 9pm. It is watched by over two million people. Timewatch is the longest-running history series in the world. It was the only series to span mankind’s entire past when it was started in 1981 by Tim Gardam, as a magazine programme showing 3 short films, linked by a presenter. That's hard to imagine in these days, when TV History has reached such levels of popularity that there are whole cable channels devoted to it, and it has been described without irony as "television's new black" or "the new cooking".

From the outset Timewatch has been a hit with viewers and critics alike. It has never deviated from its core mission, the classic Reithian ideal of "inform, educate and entertain." But as times change, so has Timewatch. It experimented first with a new "presenter-free" approach under Roy Davies’ editorship in 1985 - a format further developed by Timewatch’s third Editor, Laurence Rees. Each film was now dedicated to a single topic, drawn from any period in recorded history. This proved so popular with viewers that it remains the form of Timewatch today. This new series of Timewatch offers another fascinating selection of programmes.  






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