Behind the scenes of The People Speak

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The Independent Culture

The People Speak is a documentary film project inspired by American historian Howard Zinn and developed by writer and academic Anthony Arnove. It presents history as told by the people - and in this case a rather illustrious set of them.

The British version of the project, which was spearheaded by Colin Firth, saw Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Ben Kingsley, Keira Knightley, Juliet Stevenson, Rupert Everett, Colin Salmon, Saffron Burrows, Kelly Macdonald, Noel Clarke, Mark Strong, Joss Stone, Benjamin Zephaniah, Omid Djalili, Tom Robinson, and even The Independent columnist Mark Steel, take to the stage at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London last month to add real human voices to the words of history books.

"The idea was simple," Firth told The Independent’s James Rampton in a interview. "Take the most impassioned speeches about the fight for what is right and bring them to life for a new generation. The reason why it's so powerful is because it's about everything that matters to us: love and life, sex and death, justice and freedom. We've found some amazing speeches from the most unlikely places, British voices that have been ignored for centuries because history is a tale often told by the winners."

The fruit of their dramatic labours is to be screened on the History channel at 9pm this Sunday. But The Independent Online has been given exclusive access behind-the-scenes to bring you video of the rehearsals, interviews with contributors and more.

Watch the assets below for a glimpse behind the scenes: