TV History: Requiem or Resurrection?

Taylor Downing, one of the review judges of the recent History Today Grierson Trust award for best historical documentary, discusses this year’s entries and the current state of history on the small screen.

The History Today Grierson Award for the Best Historical Documentary of 2010 was made at a ceremony at the National Film Theatre in London in November. The honour went to Requiem for Detroit, directed by Julien Temple, a Films of Record production for BBC2. The award is a sign of the vitality of television history, as Julien Temple is more often associated with directing musical documentaries and pop videos than with making history programmes. But Requiem for Detroit was a deserved winner in a year that saw the production of a large number of quality history documentaries.

As a previous recipient of this award I know how nerve wracking it is when the Master of Ceremonies (or in this case the Mistress of Ceremonies, Sandi Toksvig) seems to go into slow motion to open the envelope and read out the words ‘And the winner is …’

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