chapter  12
Formats and reality TV
Pages 19

In the twenty-first century, the classic documentary has been under assault from many othercompetitive genres. In 2000, the British Film Institute compiled a list of ‘The HundredGreatest Television Programmes’1 ever, as chosen by a poll of the television industry’s good and great. Only nine of the hundred were documentaries, mostly long-running series, reflecting the importance placed upon a large body of work, from Granada’s current affairs flagship World in Action (1963-98) to the BBC arts strand Arena (1975-present). Others were key genre pieces in history – Civilisation (1969), The World at War (1973-4) and natural history – Life on Earth (1979), Walking with Dinosaurs (1999). The Death of Yugoslavia (1995) and The Nazis – A Warning from History (1997) were other landmark series, also mentioned in Chapter 3. That leaves just one stand-alone documentary that made the top 100 television programmes, 28 Up (1985), which came in at a creditable number 26 in the chart.