What If?

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What to expect

Christopher Andrew and guests ask what would have happened if major historical moments had taken a different course

In these 34 intriguing episodes, leading historian Christopher Andrew rewrites history, considering what might have transpired if pivotal events had turned out differently. By altering a single, plausible fact, he explores alternative futures where the Spanish Armada landed on English soil, Pontius Pilate freed Jesus, the Nazis occupied Britain, and many more.

What if George Washington had lost the War of Independence? What if Columbus had never reached the New World? And what if Elizabeth I had married? In the company of an array of guest experts, Andrew tackles these and other questions, imagining a world where cars are banned from our cities, JFK survived the shooting in Dallas, or the Great Fire of London never took place.

Full of thought-provoking hypotheses and lively speculation, this counterfactual history series not only suggests what could have happened, but refreshes our memories of what actually occurred during some of history’s key turning points. In contemplating an alternate story, we are reminded how extraordinary it is that things did indeed result in the way that they did.

Episode list
1. What if Hitler had won the war against Russia in 1941?
2. What if John F Kennedy had survived the shooting in Dallas?
3. What if the 1979 referendum had led to Scottish independence?
4. What if Columbus hadn’t reached the New World?
5. What if we’d kept the trains and banned cars from our main towns and cities?
6. What if King Edward VIII had married Mrs Simpson and remained on the throne?
7. What if Pontius Pilate had freed Jesus?
8. What if the Spanish Armada had landed in Kent in 1588?
9. What if Labour leader John Smith had lived?
10. What if either the royalist or parliamentary armies had achieved outright victory at the battle of Edgehill?
11. What if the NHS had never been introduced in 1948?
12. What if Britain had not discovered the North Sea Oil?
13. What if there was no fire of London in 1666?
14. What if Alfred the Great was defeated in 878?
15. What if German Emperor Wilhelm I had died ten years earlier?
16. What if germ warfare were to be used against the US?
17. What if there was no 1947 Agriculture Act?
18. What if Martin Luther King had survived the assassination on 4 April 1968?
19. What if Napoleon had won the Battle of Waterloo?
20. What if the Diggers had spread in 1649, and there were no slaves, lawyers or accountants?
21. What if Yasser Arafat had been assassinated in 1968?
22. What if Mary Tudor had completed the Counter-Reformation as planned?
23. What if the First Crusade had failed in 1095?
24. What if Germany had defeated France at the beginning of World War I in 1914?
25. What if Britain had voted against EU membership in the 1975 EEC Referendum?
26. What if the Russians had won the Space Race?
27. What if Alexander the Great had gone West, not East?
28. What if George Washington had lost the American War of Independence?
29. What if the Germans had discovered that the Allies had cracked the Enigma code during World War II?
30. What if the Nazis had occupied Britain in 1940?
31. What if Elizabeth I had married?
32. What if the Chinese authorities had not sent tanks into Tiananmen Square in June 1989?
33. What if the Zulus had defeated the British in 1879?
34. What if D-Day had failed?

Production credits
Presented by Professor Christopher Andrew
Produced by Ian Bell, Mark Smalley and Isobel Eaton
© 2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd
(P) 2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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