The First World War

The BEST episodes of The First World War

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

A new history in 10 parts of the global conflict which shaped the 20th century, produced by Wark Clements for Channel 4 and Southern Star.

Last Updated: 3/13/2022Network: Channel 4
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War Without End
star
8.43
127 votes

#1 - War Without End

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired 11/22/2003

The dramatic Allied victory at Amiens led to victory in just 100 days - and the signing of a bitterly-resented peace, while other nations stumbled towards their own ceasefire agreements... The last episode charting the final months of the First World War, which saw the Allies learning to pull together using a coordinated command structure and the mass-production of hi-tech weapons, while the Germans remained on French soil, believing victory to be inevitable.

Directors: Corina Sturmer
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Revolution 1917
star
8.23
98 votes

#2 - Revolution 1917

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired 11/8/2003

The effects of the Great War shattered nations, inspired mass mutinies by desperate troops, caused great upheaval on the home front...and changed the world forever... The wartime employment of spies, blockades and intelligence-gathering, which proved just as important as battleships at a time when governments faced continuing risks of mutiny, low morale, strikes and civil disobedience. Agents were sent to create unrest among the enemy, including the British-sponsored Arab Revolt led by Lawrence of Arabia, and Germany's support of Irish independence by supplying arms for the Easter Rising.

Directors: Ben Steele
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Under the Eagle 1914-1915
star
8.10
176 votes

#3 - Under the Eagle 1914-1915

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 9/27/2003

The German invasion of Belgium and France was brutal, and atrocities fanned the flames of war.

Directors: Simon Rockell
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To Arms 1914
star
8.07
222 votes

#4 - To Arms 1914

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 9/20/2003

The complex origins of the Great War, and how seemingly insignificant local tensions in the Balkans exploded into world war.

Directors: Marcus Kiggell
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Blockade 1916-1917
star
7.99
129 votes

#5 - Blockade 1916-1917

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 11/1/2003

The war at sea was every bit as bitter as the war on land. The battle at Jutland proved inconclusive, but the U-Boat menace threatened Britain as never before. Meanwhile, America entered the war... The evolving naval and intelligence war during the First World War, which saw enemy submarines turn the North Sea into a no-go area. The British responded with a blockade of Europe, and America threw its full support behind the Allies after a deciphered telegram revealed Germany was urging Mexico to attack the United States.

Directors: Marcus Kiggell
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Germany's Last Gamble 1918
star
7.97
128 votes

#6 - Germany's Last Gamble 1918

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired 11/15/2003

Over one million German troops were committed to Kaiserschlacht - the last great offensive of the war - while conflict still raged on many other fronts. The penultimate episode explores Germany's bid to end the conflict by launching Kaiserschlacht, a massive offensive on the Western Front, masterminded by General Erich Ludendorff. Within days the British Fifth Army was in retreat, Paris was under shellfire and defeat seemed inevitable. However, the plan ran out of steam as supplies and strategic options dried up and German troops became war-weary, hungry and demoralised.

Directors: Emma Wallace
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Breaking the Deadlock 1915-1917
star
7.82
157 votes

#7 - Breaking the Deadlock 1915-1917

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired 10/25/2003

The Somme and Verdun saw carnage on an unprecedented scale, as armies fought to break the stalemate on the Western Front. Stalemate; attrition; lions led by donkeys; the slaughter only ceasing for a brief truce one Christmas - these are the conventional views of the Western Front and this episode brings a fresh new appraisal of the conflict in Europe. There was constant tactical evolution on the Front - not a stalemate, but innovation and counter-innovation. It was here that German storm troopers evolved. Artillery was the key weapon of the war - not the machine-gun or the tank, and the trenches were not big killers but in fact saved many lives. The generals did not skulk in chateaux, but over two hundred were killed in action. There were many little truces all along the Western Front, not just one Christmas. However, prisoners on both sides were killed by their captors.

Directors: Simon Rockell
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Global War 1914-1916
star
7.71
167 votes

#8 - Global War 1914-1916

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/4/2003

The European Empires clashed all across the world, from the South Atlantic Seas to the plains of Africa... The global impact of the conflict, assessing Britain's efforts to save India from invasion by boosting the Allied forces with native troops as well as soldiers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Plus, an investigation into the high mortality rate among black soldiers, many of whom joined the French offensives in Europe.

Directors: Corina Sturmer
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Shackled to a Corpse 1914-1916
star
7.69
215 votes

#9 - Shackled to a Corpse 1914-1916

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired 10/18/2003

As the Germans and Austrians clashed with the Russians on the bitter Eastern Front, Italy became embroiled in a terrible slaughter... The conflict on the Eastern Front, which saw soldiers battle for years in harsh conditions, enduring avalanches and frostbite, as well as relentless enemy action across terrain from the Urals to the Alps. Both sides came close to achieving total victory, but faced many of the horrors of 20th-century warfare, including chemical weapons and the mass expulsion of civilians.

Directors: Ben Steele
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Jihad 1914-1916
star
7.68
217 votes

#10 - Jihad 1914-1916

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/11/2003

The Turkish Ottoman Empire proved a formidable foe, as the Allies found to their cost at Gallipoli and in the Middle East... How the Ottoman Empire became a major force on the German side, tying up Entente troops across the Middle East and forcing the British into a humiliating defeat at Kut, south of Baghdad. Many Turks saw the war as an opportunity to win back lost lands and hoped it would be the first step toward establishing a new empire. Also examined is the impact of the call for a jihad against the Allies, issued from a Constantinople mosque in November 1914.

Directors: Emma Wallace
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