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25th February 2014, 1:07pm
Exploring local life on the Home Front
Exploring local life on the Home Front A landmark BBC series exploring the local stories behind The Great War will be screened this week, with a leading media historian from the University of Lincoln playing a central role in revealing untold stories from across the UK.

World War One at Home, as the corporation’s largest and most ambitious season ever commissioned, marks the conflict’s centenary year by broadcasting 1,400 previously untold wartime stories. The nationwide project aims to uncover surprising accounts from familiar neighbourhoods, where the wounded were treated, front line supplies were made, scientific developments happened, prisoners of war were held and where heroes are buried.

To help unearth these original wartime tales 100 years on, key academics from across Britain have been commissioned to conduct extensive research and reveal the reality of war through the people whose lives were transformed - in their homes, schools, churches, theatres, streets and factories.

Professor Jane Chapman, Professor of Communications at the University of Lincoln’s School of Journalism, is currently working with the BBC as an expert consultant for the East of England. Her findings will be broadcast across local BBC stations throughout the centenary series, beginning on Monday 24th February 2014, when she will present a profile of Britain at the eve of the conflict’s outbreak.

Professor Chapman said: “People lived in a very different world 100 years ago. It was a world in which working folk had little opportunity for self-betterment, with children often working from the age of 10 and leaving school at 12. General life expectancy was only 55 for women and 52 for men, and the working classes lived off a staple diet of bread, margarine and tea. The landscape was very different too, with significantly less population density and much less development.

“People living from 1914-1918 therefore witnessed a watershed in history, with the war years representing the end of 19th Century values and the beginning of the 20th Century as we know it. The First World War was a landmark that had legacies, and even today, many people still possess historical family records dating back to that time - these were fascinating to discover.”

Professor Chapman’s new research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Care for the Future initiative, which explores how the relationship between the past, present and future shapes our understanding of the world around us.

Head of Programmes, BBC English Regions, Craig Henderson, said: “These local stories offer a unique insight into life on the Home Front 100 years ago.  They reveal familiar places across the nation in a new and fascinating light, places that we might drive or walk past every day without realising their historical resonance.  These stories would have remained little-known about without the involvement of the many partners and organisations across the country who have supported our journalists in bringing them to light, and I would like to thank them for their invaluable help and expertise.”

Professor Chapman will discuss her research, which covers Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and south Lincolnshire, on BBC Look East and across local BBC radio stations from Monday 24th – Friday 28th February 2014.

More World War One At Home stories, many of which will feature never before seen footage of life on the Home Front, will be broadcast in April and throughout the rest of the year. To view these accounts online and for more information, visit

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