1914 Live: History retold as breaking news
- 27 June 2014
BBC News is used to reporting breaking news around the world. It's what we do, part of the reason for our very existence. So if there were to be an assassination of a prominent European leader today, we would want to be there, reporting live. And audiences expect to consume breaking news in a live blog environment which is why we wanted to experiment with revealing history in this way.
This was the idea behind 1914 Live as the BBC's First World War season reaches the first significant anniversary.
We would use all the techniques of breaking news in 2014 to report on events from Sarajevo 100 years ago, particularly the BBC's Live format used to great effect during the World Cup and Queen's Baton Relay. And we would do it by using BBC correspondents in their familiar roles. Watch the trailer here.
So, Allan Little, who has great experience of reporting in the Balkans, will be our man in Sarajevo. Royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell tells the story of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, his wife, and their relationship with our own king and queen of the time. Diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall will look at how the assassination was viewed by the government in London.
Security correspondent Frank Gardner will tell us about the security concerns surrounding the archduke's visit to Sarajevo. And we have reaction from correspondents based in the most important European cities at the time - St Petersburg, Berlin, Vienna and Paris - to find out how the tsar, the kaiser, an emperor and a president were all told the news.
Their reports are based on meticulous research of what actually happened that day - and how the world came to know about it. The facts have been gathered and checked, the timeline carefully constructed. Professor Margaret MacMillan, author of The War That Ended Peace, has acted as our historical consultant. Her Day by Day series on Radio 4 is another part of the BBC's commitment to explaining the build-up to war alongside a wealth of material to explore at the World War One site.
No one at the time thought the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire and his wife would lead to World War One. So our reports don't suggest that. But what they do reflect are the tensions in Europe that summer and how Europe's rulers were all deeply suspicious of each other.
1914 Live begins by reporting a royal visit by what was, by early 20th Century standards, a very modern couple. It follows the events of the morning as they happened and ends by reflecting the shock felt around Europe which, unbeknown by anyone, was suddenly 37 days away from war.