Factual History Unscripted

The Great Commanders

Available as
Finished Programme
Channel 4, UK
Narrated by Brian Cox, this series investigates the lives and achievements of Alexander The Great, Julius Caesar, Horatio Nelson, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ulysses S. Grant and Georgi Zhukov, all acclaimed as military ‘greats’.

Filmed on location, each programme is based around one battle, using computer animation to illustrate the skills, tactics and strategy of each of the Commanders. Leading experts talk about the motivation that lay behind the achievements of each Commander and examine the scale and nature of their successes.

For Caesar it is the siege of Alesia and his clash with Vercingetorix, Grant's efforts in the Wilderness win him a place and, of course, Austerlitz is Bonaparte's greatest success. The 45-minute programme on Bonaparte introduces us to the young Corsican, his tribulations, meteoric rise to fame and power and his eventual defeat. Austerlitz was the crowning glory of the French leader's military successes as he was outnumbered, but fooled his Austrian and Russian enemies into attacking him and then, by brilliant leadership, utterly destroying them.