Posts in Category: Blog

History Today Column – Feelings and Friendship in the Past

In my July 2014 column for History Today, I reflected on feelings and friendship in the past…. How Does It Feel?

Historians’ Question Time at Chalke Valley History Festival

I was on the panel for BBC4′s Making History at this years Chalke Valley History Festival? The other panelists were Jon Snow, David Reynolds, and Andrea Wulf. The programme was aired on 12th August, 2014.

Whilst there I also gave a talk entitled Magnificence, Love and Scaffolds.

The Times Cheltenham Science Festival

I was an historian among scientists at Cheltenham Science Festival today – speaking on the Mary Rose as a Tudor Time Capsule and Dying to be Beautiful.

Henry VIII’s Crown in 3D

We’ve 3D printed Henry VIII’s crownYou can get your hands on the world’s first 3D printed royal crown this week, 28-30 May at Hampton Court PalaceSee how we did it.

A Tudor Tour

I’ve devised and will be leading this Tudor Tour with Historical Trips in September 2015.

Do come!

New College of the Humanities

The week of 26th May 2014 was History Week at NCH, and New College of the Humanities is featuring one member of the History faculty via blogs and videos each day. This was my turn:

First Day of Filming of Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home

First day today filming the new episode of Hidden Killers, this time of the Tudor home. With Dr Steven Gunn, soundman Hywel Jones, executive producer Jobim Sampson, and the perfectly named cameraman, Tudor Evans.

For all you lovely people who might want to watch it, it will air as part of the BBC Wolf Hall season, probably in early 2015.

The Wright Stuff again

In advance of my Henry and Anne series, I joined the panel of The Wright Stuff as the day’s special guest on Thursday 20 February. We discussed Edward Snowden’s appointment as Rector of Glasgow University, why feminism is considered by some to be an ugly word, which period in history we’d like to return to with a time machine, and whether manufacturers should label alcohol with the number of calories it contains.

My Visit to the Set of The Great Fire

London's BurningOn 29th April, 2014 I went on the set of a new TV mini-series about The Great Fire of London which series began airing on 16th October. The cast is incredible: Jack Huston, Rose Leslie and Charles Dance (Game of Thrones – Ygritte and Tywin Lannister), Daniel Mays (whom I last saw in Mojo), Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Andrew Buchan and Perdita Weeks, whose sister I used to audition with as a child. And it’s written by: Tom Bradby, the ITV News Political Editor.

WWI Uncut – Myths and Confusion, with Dan Snow

In April 2014 Dan Snow and I pitched rival teams in a game across London to test the role of command and communications in WW1. Great fun! And is airing on iPlayer as part of the WW1 Uncut series.

Henry VIII DID NOT Have a Seventh Wife!

Just to clear up any misunderstanding. Henry VIII DID NOT have a seventh wife (as far as we know ;) ). It was just an April Fool’s prank!

So Did You Fall For Our April Fool?

So how many of you fell for our April Fools’ – Henry VIII “had 7th wife”?! Thanks to Dr Suzannah Lipscomb for taking part!

Henry VIII Had a Seventh Wife!

Yesterday’s news…
Henry VIII “had seventh wife”, claims historian

I Never Knew That About Britain

On 3rd March, I joined Paul Martin and scientist Steve Mould to present a new series called I Never Knew that About Britain, based on the books by Christopher Winn. Here’s what the Daily Express had to say about it!

The Alan Titchmarsh Show

On Monday, Paul, Steve and I went on the Alan Titchmarsh Show to talk about I Never Knew that About Britain. As well as the lovely Alan, I was particularly chuffed to meet Simon Callow and Adam Richman, and Ashleigh and Pudsey were brilliant! 

The Wright Stuff

I went on Suzie on The Wright Stuff on 20th February  to talk feminism, history, men who marry repeatedly (think Henry VIII) and Snowden.


Henry and Anne: The Lovers Who Changed History screening

On 6th February we screened the first episode of Henry and Anne: The Lovers Who Changed History. With the Cast of Henry and Anne.
The first programme airs on Thursday 20 February on Five at 8pm.
I’m very pleased with it; do catch it if you can!

Meanwhile, in advance of the series, I’ve written an article about the story and the process of making it for BBC History Magazine online:


Henry and Anne: The Lovers Who Changed History

For Channel Five, I have written and presented a two-part series on the love affair between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn – its rise and its terrible fall.

The first episode airs on Thursday 20 February 2014 at 8pm and it concludes a week later.

Although – or perhaps because – this is a much-studied period of history, Henry and Anne’s relationship is a fiercely debated subject. Historians are divided about why and when the couple formed and, above all, why their relationship fell apart so spectacularly and with such fatal consequences.

For this series, I travelled in the footsteps of the couple – from Hever Castle in Kent to Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire, from the Château Royal de Blois to Hampton Court Palace. Above all, I looked carefully at the surviving manuscripts and sources, the most touching of which are Henry’s love letters to Anne, and two Books of Hours owned by Anne herself. These seem to me to give an amazing insight into a 500-year-old relationship.

I have tried to present my view of Henry and Anne, as a partnership based on mutual respect and attraction, and driven apart by the most terrible of misunderstandings.

I have written more about this for BBC History Magazine: (link to follow)

The programme was chosen as a Pick of the Day or TV Highlight on 15-16 February 2014 by: Radio Times, The Sunday Telegraph (Seven), The Observer (The New Review), The Mail on Sunday (Event), The Sunday Times (Culture), The Guardian (The Guide), The Times (Saturday Review), Daily Express (Saturday Magazine), The Sun (TV Magazine), The Daily Telegraph (Review), and The Daily Mail (Weekend).–anne-the-lovers-who-changed-history–series-1—episode-1

The series was made by Chris Mitchell and Bill Locke at Lion TV. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn are played by Jack Hawkins and Emma Connell.

Talking Tudors with Sam Willis

In the first of a new series of videos commissioned by BBC History Magazine, I was talking Tudors with Sam Willis on 19th January 2014.

Media Evolution


This week, I was invited to give the opening keynote address at the Media Evolution Conference in Malmo, Sweden. The themes of the conference were Power, Disruption and Lies, and I talked about what we can learn from the past, and what we can’t.

It was an extraordinary group of people and a brilliant conference, and I was chuffed and honoured to be invited.

You can see a video of my (30-minute) talk here: