Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain

Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain is a 2007 BBC documentary television series presented by Andrew Marr that covers the period of British history from the end of the Second World War onwards. The series is highly praised and resulted in a follow up series covering the period 1900 to 1945 called Andrew Marr’s The Making of Modern Britain. A book released by Marr accompanying the series and bearing the same name also details this period of history.

Tristram Hunt writing in The Guardian complimented Marr for his confrontational, argumentative, personalised history stating that television history, done well, should be more of an ice-bath than a comforting, warm soak. Gareth McLean congratulates Marr for analysing the times in which he immerses himself, effortlessly communicating his enthusiasm, and hinting at fundamental truths of the human condition which he states is the future of factual programming. He is also impressed that Marr maintains his penetrating scrutiny and level of insight throughout the series. Lucy Mangan exclaims the show shone the light of understanding into hitherto dark and musty corners of ignorance but criticises the final episode for concentrating too much on Blair’s People’s Princess speech after Diana’s death.

In 2009, Marr’s publisher, Macmillan Publishers, was successfully sued for libel by activist Erin Pizzey after his book A History of Modern Britain claimed she had once been part of the militant group Angry Brigade that staged bomb attacks in the 1970s. Pizzey became an opponent of the group and threatened to report their activities to the police when they discussed their intention of bombing Biba, a lively fashion store. The publisher also recalled and destroyed the offending version of the book, and republished it with the error removed.

A viewer complaint that Marr’s comment on the community charge („Unlike the old rates, it would be payable by everyone, not just homeowners“) gave the inaccurate impression that householders who were tenants had not been liable for domestic rates. The BBC Editorial Complaints Unit upheld the complaint and promised the error would be corrected before any re-broadcast.