It started by jumping from Grand Prince Vladimir of Kievan Rus to Ivan The Terrible, and ignoring the five centuries in between. Hey, let’s make a programme about “the epic story of England”, and jump from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth I. And that was just the start. A small sample of things which it totally failed to mention – the Mongol invasions, the Battle on the Neva, the Time of Troubles, the Schism, the Table of Ranks, the Pugachev Rebellion, the Napoleonic Wars, the Decembrists, the Crimean War, the liberation of the serfs. It did however mention James Bond, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, Rasputin, Vladimir Putin going scuba diving, Boris Yeltsin’s drinking habits and Roman Abramovich.
Then it concluded by saying that Russia had come full circle from Grand Prince Vladimir to Vladimir Putin. Presumably apart from Vladimir Putin not being a Russian Orthodox saint, and Grand Prince Vladimir neither being interested in scuba diving nor having spies who went to watch Arsenal.
Seriously, Channel 5? I thought you’d got your act together with history programmes, but what on earth was this?
I think it was just meant to be Cold War-esque propaganda making out that Russia is the Big Baddie. I don’t want to see stuff like that. We’re supposed to have moved on from those days, and I don’t want to see any sort of propaganda on British TV. Out of two hours, about twenty minutes was spent on pre-revolutionary Russia. Then even the Civil War was pretty much skipped over, and it was on to Stalin, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Chernobyl, the fall of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin sitting on a tank, and then loads and loads about Vladimir Putin.
The argument seemed to be that Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and Catherine the Great (apart from Vladimir and Nicholas II, every other monarch was completely ignored) were dictators (Catherine would not be impressed with that at all) who paved the way for Putin. Well, that’s logical, isn’t it? Three monarchs in 500 years. You might as well say that Henry VIII, George IV and Victoria are the reason that Boris Johnson could do with losing a few pounds (on which score I sympathise with them). You could look at any country’s history and pick three monarchs in 500 years, and claim that they somehow typify the country’s leadership. Then it completely contradicted itself, by saying that it was actually the KGB in charge, not Putin.
Not impressed. We don’t need this sort of programme on TV. And, if you say you’re going to talk about a millennium of Russian history, even if you don’t seem to know that the correct word is “millennium” rather than “millennia”, then please, er, do so.