If you ever find yourself flicking through the TV channels and settling on BBC Four, the chances are that my ugly mug will come looming into view at some point. I’ve appeared on documentaries about the relationship between Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, the history of the countryside, the history of environmentalism, the history of caravans, the history of domestic service, the history of men in sitcoms, the history of British Transport information films, the history of rudeness, the history of general election coverage, the history of Panorama … the list goes on. I have to admit I’ve lost track of them myself.
I am probably best known, however, for my series on BBC2, The 70s, which ran in April and May 2012 and attracted some 3 million viewers. I wrote an article about the series here and there’s a nice Guardian review of the first episode here.
On radio, I wrote and presented an edition of Radio 4′s Archive Hour about anniversaries, as well as a two-part Radio 4 series, Slapdash Britain, about the history of British governance since the war. In October 2011 I presented an edition of Archive on 4 about the history of Prime Minister’s Questions, and later that year I wrote and presented Radio Four’s major 15-part history of the Post Office, which is also available as an audiobook.
On Channel 4, I’ve appeared on programmes about the history of the monarchy and the current Queen’s coronation, and was in every episode of a series called How TV Changed Britain. On BBC2, I was the historical consultant for Kirsty Young’s series on the British Family and the British at Work. I’ve twice been a guest of Giles Coren and Sue Perkins: the first time I was talking about the 1950s over a terrible dinner at a holiday camp, and the second I ate roast duck while vaguely pretending to be some sort of friend of Jerry from The Good Life.
I’ve appeared on BBC Breakfast, Newsnight Review, Radio 4′s Today programme and Radio 3′s Night Waves, and I often turn up on Radio 4′s Saturday Review, trying to pretend I know about art. I’ve also been a guest on Radio 4′s The Music Group (where I chose the Kinks’ “The Village Green Preservation Society”) and Great Lives (where I chose Richard Nixon).
One other interesting thing is that in the spring of 2012, I was the historical consultant for the epic BBC2 drama series White Heat, which was written by the BAFTA- and Emmy-award-winning scriptwriter Paula Milne and used my books on the 1960s and 1970s for historical background. (I would say that it borrowed my title, too, but for the fact that Harold Wilson got there first.) You can buy it on DVD, safe on the knowledge that you won’t see the slightest glimpse of me.
Here are a couple of clips:
From the documentary “All’s Wells that Ends Wells” on the BBC’s new Doctor Who DVD The Ark, in which I’m discussing the influence of H. G. Wells on the series in the 1960s:
Another documentary on the same DVD. This time I’m discussing abysmally-realized monsters:
A lecture to the Royal Society of Arts in the autumn of 2010. I’m talking about early-1970s Britain, the subject of my book State of Emergency: