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2015 marks the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta – the document seen by many as England’s greatest export. It set out limits to the powers of the monarch and ideals of liberty and justice which have underpinned British society, the establishment of Parliamentary democracy and the development of the legal system in the UK and around the world.

This landmark moment falls in a General Election year and the BBC will mark this period with Taking Liberties – a collection of thought-provoking new commissions from across the BBC that will not only explore Magna Carta’s history and influence but will also examine the current state of democracy. The season will form part of an extensive range of events and activities across the country to mark the anniversary. The BBC has been working closely with the British Library and the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee to develop this collection of programmes.

Taking Liberties kicked off on January 5 2015 with Melvyn Bragg’s ‘Magna Carta’, a major new four-part documentary series for Radio 4. It then engaged the public on 20th January in a day long debate about representation and democracy, called ‘Democracy Day’, which trended on Twitter.

Click here for a full overview of the ‘Taking Liberties’ content – including programmes, comment & debate, and news articles. Or, see our list of programmes now available on iPlayer or Youtube below:

Television Programmes:

BBC 2: David Starkey’s ‘Magna Carta’ – available for an entire year on BBC iPlayer.
BBC 2: Horrible Histories Magna Carta Special: Crooked King John and Magna Carta – click here to watch on BBC iPlayer
Horrible Histories Magna Carta rap battle – click here to watch on YouTube
Horrible Histories Magna Carta ‘800 years’ – click here to watch on YouTube
BBC Two: Inside the Commons – click here to watch episode 1 on BBC iPlayer.
BBC 4: The Last Journey of the Magna Carta King – click here to watch on BBC iPlayer
BBC 4: Storyville: The Internet’s Own Boy – click here to watch on BBC iPlayer.
BBC News: Early Magna Carta Discovered in Scrapbook – click here to watch on BBC News.


BBC Radio 4: Melvyn Bragg’s ‘Magna Carta’ on BBC iPlayer – click here to listen again on BBC iPlayer.
BBC Radio 4: A Modern Magna Carta. Helena Kennedy QC discusses Magna Carta today – click here to listen again on BBC iPlayer.
BBC World Service: The Extraordinary Legacy of Magna Carta. June 14th, Temple Church. Click here to listen again.

BBC iWonder

Do you know how much political power is in your pocket? The BBC has produced an excellent guide to Magna Carta and emerging digital rights aimed at younger audiences – click here to view.

The BBC has also produced an excellent short film covering all the programmes to be featured in Taking Liberties. Click here to watch the video.

Click here to download the BBC’s ‘Taking Liberties’ press release as a .pdf

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