Fake news, a complacent elite … the similarities with 2017 weren’t far from the surface in this exciting account of the Russian Revolution. Plus Celebrity Hunted and the return of Our Girl
The parallels became so blatant as Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution (BBC2) went on that I just wanted someone to come out and say it. In a sweet moment of release, the historian Simon Sebag Montefiore obliged near the end: “We live today in a world of rampant populism and of post-factual politics, and much of this can be traced back to Lenin, that ultimate political manipulator.”
It was all here. There was fake news (of sorts): the famous recreation that showed thousands storming the Winter Palace widely came to be seen as an accurate reflection of the actual event, when in fact it was just a few dozen who strolled past ineffectual guards made up of youths and “scared” women. There were the elite who couldn’t believe a populist would beat them. “A lot of liberal politicians were saying: ‘Forget it, don’t worry, Lenin is a busted flush … we don’t need to worry about him,’” pointed out China Miéville.