Dr Helen Brooks features in Dan Snow documentary on World War One

Research from a University-based public engagement centre features in a new documentary giving an insight into the untold stories of the First World War.

The documentary, presented by historian Dan Snow, looks at pioneering research carried out at five WWI public engagement centres, including Kent’s own Gateways to the First World War centre, launched in 2014.

Involving 26 universities and partner organisations – including the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Imperial War Museum – the centres have helped hundreds of community groups to research public histories of the First World War as part of the centenary commemorations.

The Gateways project opens the 30-minute documentary and explores the story of theatre during the First World War. Dr Helen Brooks, who led the Great War Theatre project, discovered long-forgotten plays as part of her research.

She found that during WWI just under 3000 new plays were written and licensed for performance across England, Scotland and Wales. Over a quarter of these dealt with the war.

Dr Brooks, of the University’s School of Arts, said: ‘Most of these plays have been long forgotten. However by reading, researching and re-staging them up and down the country, the project has provided unique new insights into life during the Great War.

The documentary, Untold Stories of World War I, was produced by the History Hit channel and was launched on 1 November. The other projects featured are: Beyond the Battlefields: Käthe Buchler’s Photographs of Germany in the Great War; Birmingham’s Wounded Soldiers from WWI; and Ballykinler Military Training Estate.

Kent’s Gateways to the First World War and the other WWI public engagement centres are funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.