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Michael Wood's Story of England

4.4 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Michael Wood's Story of England (DVD)

In this groundbreaking series, charismatic presenter Michael Wood tells the story of one place - the village of Kibworth, Leicestershire - throughout the whole of English history. Located in the very heart of England, Kibworth has lived through the Black Death, the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution, and was even bombed in World War II. With the help of the local people and using archaeology, landscape, language and DNA, Michael Wood uncovers the lost history of this village from the Roman era to the present day. Intertwining the local and national narratives, he creates a moving and informative picture of one local community throughout history.



The Story of England, written and directed by Michael Wood, is one of the most fascinating TV documentary series in recent memory. One doesn't need to be English to find this approach to living history absolutely gripping. The idea was a genius one, yet hard to imagine what the results might be. Wood and his crew decided to pick an ordinary small English town, Kibworth, and see if they could get the townsfolk to agree to help them figure out how to learn the history of the hamlet. And an amazing history it is, the viewer soon finds. Located in Leicestershire in the heart of England, the area was ruled by Romans, Saxons, descendants of Vikings, tribal leaders, and many others over the centuries-long history of England. Meticulously, Wood and the scholars on his team fan out into the town, which enthusiastically agrees to help. This plays out in having living archeological digs dotted all around the town, in regular backyards, fields, streets, and crossroads. And the findings are amazing--tools from the Bronze Age, Viking artifacts, Roman coins, skeletal remains from the time of the Black Death. Wood's Story of England not only brings history alive, but it puts it into immediate context, and the excitement of the villagers upon each new find is contagious. Don't be surprised if, after you've watched the whole series, you find yourself wondering what might be buried just a few feet below the surface in your own backyard. --A.T. Hurley

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 24, 2012
  • Run Time: 353 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00860YHSM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,212 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating and superb series that very colorfully and entertainingly covers the entire history of England, from pre-Roman times to the 1950s, via the village(s) of Kibworth in the county of Leicestershire. Through various means -- archeological, documents, topographical studies, and local and oral history -- we find out the true story of real and ordinary people. History comes vividly alive in a way that the endless successive repetition of wars, monarchs, and squabbling aristocrats never can.

We are never patronized or asked to indulge in glorious fantasies here. History is told via the words of the people themselves -- through, for instance the amazingly in-depth documents and scholarship that have been preserved throughout the centuries in this uniquely placed village. As it turns out, there's a lot more here than even remotely meets the eye. We get a much fuller and more comprehensive and understandable history of this England than I ever would have thought possible.

The great thing about this series is that it was aimed for a British audience but it's so clearly understandable and tangible that Americans and any other nationality can easily understand it as well.

The series is gloriously and beautifully filmed and scored, and Michael Wood is an unfailingly charming, engaging, charismatic, and knowledgeable presenter.

I promise you will learn much more than you ever thought you didn't know about English history. If, for instance, you are a fan of the films of Ken Burns, or Michael Wood's other programs (e.g., The Story of India), or Simon Schama, you are sure to love this series.

By the way, this is the FULL original UK version, that aired on the BBC.
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Format: DVD
As far as non-fiction television programming goes, I think that "Michael Wood's Story of England" is one of the most unique examples imaginable. An exciting and informative trip through history, Wood's and his team seek to recreate a working timeline as it affected one small town. The quaint English burg of Kibworth, Leicestershire is host to this educational experiment. The first recorded instance of Kibworth being recognized was in 1086. So Wood begins with archeological findings, then digs through annotated history, and then wraps with more personal accounts on this world wind journey through the ages. The narrative advances through various time periods up until present day to see just how the different eras impacted this sleepy little town. This is taking living history to its most personal level! Not only do the inhabitants share in the story, they are eager participants in the documentary. Part of why this is so captivating is Wood's appeal, but mostly it is how committed to the project that the locals become. Ordinary folks morph into historical crusaders.

The two DVD set contains all six episodes from the 2010 BBC presentation with over two extra hours of footage to compliment the collection. Included are:

1) Romans to Normans
2) Domesday to Magna Carta
3) The Great Famine and The Black Death
4) Peasants' Revolt to The Tudors
5) Henry VIII to The Industrial Revolution
6) Victoria to The Present Day

While obviously geared toward a British audience, "Story of England" still has overwhelming crossover appeal. It takes an immense history and condenses it into a pretty specific world view. The same approach could be undertaken in any town in any land yielding a unique cross section of drama and intrigue.
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I really enjoyed this method of telling, in a basic way, the history of England through the experiences of a small town. British history is pretty detailed and extends back many millennia, unlike American history (or the American history most of us know about). Wood veers away from the escapades of kings and queens and various nobility and instead gives us a more populist version, which might be dubbed the "ordinary man's story." We watch as a region and a town is transformed by time and migration, by war and by love. I liked that approach, and I learned as much about the various cultures that crossed that island nation--and possibly more--than I would have learned by the traditional names-and-dates approach.

The videos (CDS or DVDs actually) consist of several episodes and can be watched over several sittings. I enjoyed how he got the local townspeople--of all ages--involved in helping him tell his story. It's "beginner" British history, in many respects. But it provides some ineresting details that will interest people with more specific interests. I was interested in the interview with the Australian couple who had come to the area in search of information about their British ancestor. This caught my attention because I, too, have British ancestors and hope to eventually figure out what part of England they were from and visit.........Anyone with an interest in genealogy will recognize how much you can learn about different eras of human history and various cultures while you are doing your best to trace your ancestors.
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