In this new UK commission the History channel delves into the stories behind 12 of the most iconic photographs in recent history.
The programme unravels the reasons why each of the photographs made such an impact on the world.
Photos that Changed the World is an in-depth look at the most significant events in history told through the lens of the photographers and the subjects that made these images famous. Each 30 minute episode covers one unforgettable photographs and explores the remarkable impact that they had on our culture and society by speaking to the people most involved in their capture.
From the shocking, through the tragic to the mesmerising, Photos that Changed the World explores stories that encapsulate the depth and breadth of the human condition. From Neil Armstrong’s photograph of his fellow astronaut, Buzz Aldrin to Nick UT’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of ‘Napalm Girl’, which encapsulated the horrors of the Vietnam War, the series explores some of the most significant events in recent human history.
The production also tells stories through specially shot interviews with photographers, subjects, eyewitnesses, historians and cultural commentators. Contributors include the Napalm Girl Kim Phuc, SAS hero Rusty Firmin, David Lammy MP, Princess Diana’s bodyguard Ken Wharfe, Major Tim Peake and Jeff Widener who risked his life to capture the iconic Tank Man/Tiananmen Square image to tell the world of the courage of the Beijing students and their bid for freedom and media reaction throughout the series is from former Daily Mirror editor Mike Molloy.
The first episode of the series looks at the Iranian Embassy Siege. In 1980, six gunmen took over the Iranian embassy in London. Following the death of a hostage, the world watched, and photographers swarmed as the SAS stormed the building while the second edition brings us that Royal Kiss. Newlyweds the Prince and Princess of Wales kiss on a balcony at Buckingham Palace. Charles’s formal pose and Diana’s emotional physicality has since been suggested as a sign for the marriage that lay ahead.
The third episode The Terror Of War looks at the horrific photograph of 9-year-old Kim Phuc running naked in terror from a napalm attack was widely published around the world and is attributed to having helped end the war in Vietnam while episode four is entitled Hunting the President. As President Reagan waved, John Hinckley Jr. fired his gun, and photographer Ron Edmonds captured the vulnerability of political leaders for all the world to see.
The Hooded Man is the fifth edition in the series. The most memorable image from the war in Iraq was taken not by a photographer, but by US Army staff sergeant Ivan Frederick, one of several soldiers to torture Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. In the sixth outing History turn to the Munich Massacre. Kurt Strumpf’s haunting photo of a balaclava-wearing terrorist at The Olympic games in Munich, became a symbol of the times following a 21-hour standoff that ended in a bloodbath.
Greg English’s photo of Nelson Mandela, free for the first time in over a quarter of a century, gave millions of people, not just South Africans, hope for the future. It’s the subject of the seventh edition entitled Mandela’s Walk to Freedom. In the eighth episode the photograph of 2-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying face down on a Turkish beach caused international outrage and woke the world to the urgency of the Syrian refugee crisis. This edition is simply entitled The Drowned Boy.
In episode nine, The Lady in the Mask, takes us to the London 7/7 bombings and the image of commuter Davinia Turrell clutching a white burns mask to her face outside Edgware Road tube station brought home the very real threat of terrorism in the UK. Edition ten takes us back to the 1960s with The Moors Murders. A chilling ‘trophy’ photograph taken by Ian Brady shows Myra Hindley looking down on the shallow grave of John Kilbride, one of five children murdered in crimes that shocked the nation.
In Tank Man the production looks at Jeff Widener’s photograph of a lone man stood in front of a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square. The snap became a powerful symbol of both the bloody events of June 4th, 1989, and of non-violent resistance and in the final episode History turns to A Man on the Moon. With its 50th anniversary landing in July 2019, the photo of Buzz Aldrin standing on an alien world is the enduring image of Apollo 11, and changed the way we see ourselves and our planet.
The twelve-part series Photos that Changed the World will premiere on HISTORY® with the first episode airing on Monday October 21st at 10pm. Two 30-minute episodes will play back-to-back with each episode covering one photograph.