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David Starkey’s Magna Carta (BBC-2 26 Jan 2015)

David Starkey's Magna Carter

“What about Magna Carta – did she die in vain” – Tony Hancock

We take our liberties for granted; they seem absolute and untouchable. But they are the result of a series of violent struggles fought over 800 years, which at times have threatened to tear society apart. On the frontline was a document originally inked on animal skin: Magna Carta.

Distinguished constitutional historian David Starkey looks at the origins of the Great Charter in 1215, designed to check the abuses of King John – and how it nearly died at birth.

He explores its subsequent deployment, its contribution to making everyone – even the monarch – subject to the rule of law, and how this quintessentially English document migrated to the North American colonies and eventually became the foundation of the US constitution.

Magna Carta has become a universal symbol of individual freedom against the tyranny of the state, so with ever-tightening government control on our lives, is it time to resurrect it?

production details
UK / BBC Two / 1×60 minute episode / Broadcast Monday 26 January 2015 @ 9.00pm