Thursday 20 November 2014


Thursday 27 November 2014, 18.30-21.00

The BBC and the British Council host a public debate at the Musée de l’Armée at Invalides, Paris, France, to discuss the relevance and legacy of the First World War today.

To mark the centenary of World War One, the BBC World Service and the British Council are hosting a series of debates around the world to explore the war’s lasting global legacy. The debates are free and open to the public.

"The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue" said Napoleon. Life in the trenches during the war, amongst rats, mud, shelling, barbed wire and unprecedented numbers of dead, called upon new reserves of both. But what did the war do to the ancient idea of heroism? With death, degradation and grief on such an unprecedented scale how did the concepts of duty, sacrifice and honour survive - for men and women? At Napoleon's last resting place, the Hôtel national des Invalides, on the centenary of the outbreak of the first industrialised war, we explore heroism and the First World War. With more women entering the work place than ever before, did the war redefine what it meant to be a woman, as well as what it meant to be a man?

Historian and broadcaster Amanda Vickery chairs a panel including historians André Loez, Sciences Po Paris and Emmanuelle Cronier, University of Picardie, and Professor of Literature Laurence Campa from l'université de Paris-XII-Val-de-Marne. Film Director, Christian Carion, joins them to explore the Christmas Truce - the subject of his Oscar-nominated film ‘Joyeux Noël' - in an essay on courage which has been specially commissioned to mark the centenary of the spontaneous ceasefire which took place across the Western Front at Christmas 1914.

Director British Council France Paul Docherty says: "The British Council is delighted to be working with the BBC World Service to explore the impact and legacy of the First World War here in France.  There is nowhere better to do this than in the Musée de L’Armée and we are particularly pleased to be holding this event that iconic location”

Senior Commissioning Editor, BBC World Service Steve Titherington says: "This series has shown how important learning about events a hundred years ago is for understanding the world as it is now. Exploring and discussing the impact of the war in France is crucial for our global audience.”

A radio recording of The War That Changed The world: Heroism will be broadcast across the world by the BBC World Service on Saturday 6 December, 1900 GMT and Sunday 7 December 1200 GMT.

After closing, journalists who are covering the event are invited to a 10 minute exclusive access to the panel and presenter to ask their special question.

Having launched in Bosnia this June and concluding in Jordan in June 2015, the event in Paris marks the seventh in a series of debates entitled The War that Changed the World. The debates are hosted by Allan Little, Amanda Vickery and Razia Iqbal and include Germany, the UK, Turkey, Russia, India, Tanzania and the USA. 

Audiences can register free of charge to join the debate here


Notes to Editor

BBC World Service is an international multimedia broadcaster, delivering a wide range of language and regional services on radio, TV, online and via wireless handheld devices. It uses multiple platforms to reach its weekly audience of 191 million globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite and cable channels. Its news sites include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. BBC World Service offers its multilingual radio content to partner FM stations around the world and has numerous partnerships supplying content to news websites, mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices as well as TV channels. For more information, visit 

Press Contact : Lizzy Maddison -

To register to the event

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 7000 staff – including 2000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the Arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant-in-aid provides less than 25 per cent of our turnover which last year was £781m. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.


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