The Story of British Pathe

The Birth of the News

Series 1 - Episode 1 The Birth of the News



See the word “Pathé” and you may think of black-and-white children scuffing around playgrounds or speeded-up cup finals played in enormous shorts. Of inappropriately jaunty music and plummy tones announcing “Give that man a coconut”. This terrific four-
part series tempers that Cholmondley-Warnerish image with a riveting story of pioneering camerawork and devil-may-care journalism. The company’s extraordinary history, from its French origins (the cockerel mascot is a clue) and Western Front airbrushing to the suffragette movement, Belsen and the coronation, is told through haunting newsreel and by the likes of Andrew Marr and Kate Adie.

One astonishing early film shows how Pathé created the template for today’s news: cameras were on the spot to record the Sidney Street Siege in 1910, which followed the armed robbery of a jewellery store and even caused Winston Churchill to turn up with a shotgun.


Archive footage charting how the film and newsreel company chronicled life in Britain and around the world during the 20th century, from lavish state occasions to global conflicts and major social issues. The series begins by examining the work of Pathe's cameramen, revealing the techniques they employed that are still in use today. Narrated by Verity Sharp.