People tend to think of YouTube as being a place to find amusing clips of animals, sport highlights and pop videos, but I recently discovered that it contains a lot of full length TV history documentaries and dramas.
It would seem likely that most, if not all, of these are online in breach of copyright, but it is up to the programme makers to complain to YouTube. Most of the British ones that I have found were made by the BBC and probably shown by PBS in the USA. Possibly they do not bother complaining if the programme is not currently available on DVD. None of the BBC programmes listed below are currently on sale as a DVD from Amazon UK.
Some of the programmes are divided into 10 minute segments, presumably in an extremely doubtful attempt to take advantage of YouTube’s rule that putting up a 10 minute segment from a programme constitutes fair usage.
To protect myself and Word Press against any allegations of copyright infringement I am not providing any links in this post, but programmes that I have found include several series by the late Richard Holmes, one of Britain’s leading military historians: War Walks, where he walked over battlefields from British wars from the 100 Years’ War to the Second World War; Western Front, about World War I; Redcoats and Rebels, a history of the American War of Independence; and The Iron Duke, a biography of the Duke of Wellington.
Other BBC documentaries available include several episodes of Timewatch, an excellent history series, including episodes on the Roman Way of War, medieval knights, the Boer War, the foundation of MI5, World War I tanks, several on the World War II and others on non-military history.
Series shown by other TV companies in the UK that I have found include The First World War, written by Hew Strachan, and ones on both world wars in colour. World War I in Colour colourised black and white film, but World War II in Colour used original colour film.
Searching on major battles such as the Somme, Gallipoli, the Battle of Britain, Midway, El Alamein, Stalingrad, Kursk and Iwo Jima produces plenty of hits, including some feature films as well as documentaries.
Some documentaries from other countries that I found but have yet to watch include Soviet Storm: WW2 in the East, a Russian series, and Wehrmacht and Hitler’s Children, both produced by the German documentary maker Guido Knopp. Those two are both available with English narrations. Other Knopp documentaries are on YouTube, but in German.