History documentaries

From the dawn of civilization to the emergence of modern-day superpowers, BBC Select hosts a wide-ranging collection of world history documentaries. If you live in the US or Canada, you can sign up to watch these BBC history documentaries hosted by the likes of Bettany Hughes, Lucy Worsley, Simon Schama and David Olusoga today.


Watch Napoleon with BBC Select

This epic 3-part BBC Napoleon documentary sees Andrew Roberts retrace the footsteps of Napoleon Bonaparte to learn about the life of the legendary French leader.

With access to a unique archive of personal letters, historian Andrew Roberts brings the story of Napoleon vividly to life.

As he retraces the footsteps of the legendary leader, he sheds new light on Napoleon as an extraordinarily gifted military commander and mesmeric leader, whose private life was, contrary to popular belief, littered with disappointments and betrayals.


Watch D-Day with BBC Select

The planning for the Allied invasion against the Nazi forces on June 6th 1944 took two years, cost thousands of lives and involved a deception of breathtaking audacity.

Presenting events through the eyes of the men and women who were there, this extraordinary D Day documentary explores the story in full.

With personal testimonies and compelling drama, this two-part World War II series recreates the biggest seaborne invasion in history.

Armada: The Untold Story

Watch Armada: The Untold Story on BBC Select

When Elizabeth I ascended to the English throne in 1558, she rejected Philip II, Emperor of Spain, as a suitor. Thirty years later, he would lead a huge invasion force against her, seeking to depose Elizabeth and bring Protestant England back into the Catholic fold. It was a decision that would define them both.

Historian Dan Snow looks at this monumental time in European history in this European history documentary on the Spanish Armada.

Hitler: A Life In Pictures

Hitler A Life in 10 Pictures

Adolf Hitler was careful to cultivate a cult of personality. Images of him were carefully selected by the Nazi propaganda machine. This extraordinary documentary features photos and film from two photographers who dedicated their lives to documenting Hitler: Heinrich Hoffmann and assistant Eva Braun. Unpublished photos and hours of amateur film footage show a rare glimpse of the unseen Hitler.

The Struggle
Hitler struggled to be noticed until he joined a little-known right ring political party.

From his childhood through to the end of the First World War, Hitler struggled to be noticed. But as this fascinating history documentary discovers, joining a little-known right wing political party, known as the Nazis, changed his fortunes. Together with photographer Heinrich Hoffmann he cultivated a memorable image that would help him gain notoriety and take a stranglehold on power.

In Power
Once in power, Hitler and the Nazis perfected the latest propaganda techniques.

Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933. Once they were elected, the Nazis incorporated the latest propaganda techniques of photography, film, and radio to mold Germany to their own vision. As this compelling history documentary shows, at the heart of the new Nazi regime was a carefully crafted image of the Fuhrer as a powerful leader who was completely dedicated to protecting the nation.

Hitler’s Secret Life
Hitler presented himself as a single man, devoted only to Germany.

But this was a lie. To the outside world, Hitler was as a single man, devoted only to Nazi Germany. But, as this insightful history documentary reveals, in private he needed the companionship of women, most notably his niece Geli Raubal and his mistress Eva Braun. Both their lives would end in suicide. Eva Braun’s home movies provide a valuable and rarely seen insight into Hitler’s inner circle and true nature.

After the humiliation of the First World War, Hitler was determined to crush all dissent.

After the humiliation of the First World War, Hitler was determined to crush communism and create ‘Lebensraum’ or living space for Germany. His ambition drove him to war in a bid for German global domination. But, as this revealing history documentary shows, what he created ultimately led to his downfall and one of the greatest disasters the world has ever seen, much of it captured on film.

Rebellion: The Stuarts In Exile

Rebellion: The Stuarts in Exile

In 1715, James Francis Stuart, son of deposed monarch James II, launched one of British history’s most audacious rebellions. He attempted to reclaim the throne from the Hanoverian King George I. In this enthralling history documentary, Dr. Clare Jackson tells the story of The Stuarts in Exile and reveals the political, military, and cultural threat they posed to the embryonic British state.

Game of Crowns
The disastrous campaign by the deposed Catholic royals to regain the British throne.

The brother of Charles II, James II was Britain’s final Catholic monarch. His reign was beset by religious infighting, and he was eventually exiled to France. In this engrossing history documentary, Dr Clare Jackson looks at what the Stuart dynasty did next. James’s heir tried to reclaim the throne from the ruling Protestant king. But his disorganized campaign was to have disastrous consequences.

A New Hope
Did the Stuarts come much closer to regaining the British throne than previously believed?

The Stuarts attempts to regain the British throne has often been dismissed as a dynastic spat. But as Dr Clare Jackson reveals in this fascinating history documentary, the campaign involved widespread intrigue and covert plots between various European states. But why did so many Scots and English support the Catholic Stuarts and how close did the new Protestant regime come to destruction?