Former UK Prime Minister John Major, his Italian counterpart Mario Monti, US general Colin Powell and secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld are among the contributors to World Wars, a new six-parter for History Channel that suggests World War I and World War II were in fact one bloody continuum rather than distinct events.
From The Men Who Built America producer Stephen David Entertainment, the series is the first international coproduction led by all of the international History channels, with input from their US counterpart.
Running in chronological order over its six one hours (or three two hours for the US version) the series lays out how the most iconic figures of WWII—Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, George S. Patton, Charles de Gaulle and Douglas MacArthur—were caught up in both conflicts and were infantrymen and privates in WWI the “war to end all wars”.
“This is the first collaboration across all of the international channels,” explains Sally Habbershaw, VP, international programming, production and operations at A+E. She adds that amid a glut of World War programming to mark 100 years since the start of World War I, the History series brings a fresh way of looking at the conflicts and intervening period: “It’s that perspective that makes it stand out. No-one has focused on that hiatus, that period between the wars before and we play heavily on that and also on the core characters and the relationships between them in that era.”
One editorial challenge was the different ways the World Wars are perceived in different countries and A+E has folded in contributions from local commentators, in their own language, into the show, giving some local flavor and perspective.
The series relies on archive and to a greater extent drama reconstruction, which accounts for over half of the run time, to tell the World Wars story. It will launch on History, possibly first in India or Spain later this year. With the World Cup some of the international History channels will wait until after the soccer tournament to launch the show.
French pubcaster France Télévisions and German channel N24 have prebought the series with other deals expected to be announced at MIPDoc. A+E is handling all international sales.
The show: World Wars
The distributor: A+E Network
The producer: Stephen David Entertainment
The producer: History Channel (global)
The concept: Landmark doc series looking at how the two World Wars were one bloody continuum