There’s been many traumatic incidents over the last few days – earthquakes, shootings, terrorist atrocities, industrial accidents… Sadly, these are nothing new, and the British Pathé archive contains a great deal of past tragedies. The Day That Shook The World series, for instance, features many acts of terror, including the IRA bombing in Brighton, 9/11, the London Bombings of 2005, the Belsan School Siege, and the Oklahoma attack. You can find every episode here.
Although her Official birthday is not until June, Elizabeth II was actually born on 21st April 1926. She will be 87 this year. As the daughter of the Duke of York, her birth did not earn newsreel coverage at the time. But there is some early footage of her as a young princess and a collection of key films from her reign.
Perhaps of particular interest is this newsreel celebrating her 21st birthday, which includes great footage of a care-free princess.
A few years ago, what was then called “British Pathé News” began a production with the BBC called A Day That Shook The World. Two series were eventually made, the first narrated by John Humphrys, and they are available on our website to view (for free) in our programmes section. The last Pathé newsreel was released in February 1970, so this series and the associated series 20th Century Hall ofFamebring the archive beyond the twentieth century.
Topics covered by the series include September 11th, the Iraq War and the Capture of Saddam Hussein, the collapse of Enron, the Asian Tsunami, and the London Bombings. From this period, the series also covers the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla – not quite an event that “shook the world” but certainly an interesting one.
From the latter part of the twentieth century, the series documents the impeachment of President Clinton, the death of Diana, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War, Chernobyl, and the Falklands Crisis. Prior to that we are in classic Pathe territory, with episodes succinctly summarising key events using Pathe footage that was captured at the time – the Somme, Hiroshima, Queen Victoria’s funeral, to name but a few. The series therefore acts as a useful entry point into an archive of 90,000 clips to wade through.