TV: modern father of history?

Historian article

By Bettany Hughes, published 8th September 2012

Bettany Hughes Norton Medlicott Medal Winner Lecture

In 1991 I travelled to the BBC for a meeting with a senior television producer. It seemed to me that history just wasn't getting a fair crack of the whip. I talked animatedly about the on-screen discoveries that could be made and the academic insights shared; I waxed lyrical about the natural connection between our lives and the lives of those who had gone before us. But then came that embarrassing moment when I realized I was doing all of the talking, and what was coming from the other side of the desk was a chill wind of disapproval: "Let me tell you something," the producer said. "One. No one is interested in history any more. Two, no one watches history programmes on television and three, no one wants to be lectured at...particularly not lectured at by a woman!"

This, as you can imagine, put fire in my belly. Not just because the gentleman in front of me was revealing attitudes to sexual equality that would have sat quite happily in the more repressive regimes of antiquity, but also because he was proving himself ignorant and out of touch. Instinctively and intellectually I knew he was wrong.

Fast forward twenty years...

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