Things We Forgot to Remember – The Glorious Revolution

…was on Radio 4 last night with contributions from yours truly. Listen here via BBC i-player.


Thomas Paine, made in England

You can listen to my talk given at the Thetford Tom Paine 200 festival hereThomas Paine's statue in Thetford. More Paine anniversary news over here.

Published in: on June 8, 2009 at 1:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Supersizers go Restoration

I enjoyed this a great deal, not least because I now know what a ‘coxcomb‘ is. Shameful ignorance on my part thankfully corrected. (I had largely encountered the word as a synonym for ‘knave’ or ‘fool.’)

Link above is to the BBC i-player, so it will only work for the next six days or so.

Published in: on May 28, 2008 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Allan Macinnes and the BBC’s new history of ‘Scotland’

An interesting post by Oxonienses concerning Professor Macinnes’ withdrawal from working as a consultant on this new BBC history series, fronted by the now ubiquitous Neil Oliver. The article in the Scotsman (unfortunately the link no longer appears to work) certainly appeared to cause a storm, with over 600 comments on the post. I have to say that it sounds to me as if the problems with the series as described by Prof Macinnes have less to do with an Anglo-centric perspective and more to do with the overall conservatism of the directors and producers of TV history. Simon Schama’s History of Britain was, after all, really a history of the monarchy (at least David Starkey’s C4 series was upfront about this). Justin Champion did a very good job of unpicking the problems with TV history in his review of Schama’s series for HWJ.

Exorcism – it’s what you pay your council tax for

Interesting article about Durham council hireing an exorcist to get rid of a troublesome poltergeist – but couldn’t they have got a priest to do it for free? Or don’t they teach that sort of stuff in the seminary anymore?

Whether this is evidence of the survival of the cosmic worldview or just too many hours spent watching ‘most haunted’, I’m not sure.

Published in: on February 13, 2008 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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John Milton, Martin Amis and Quentin Skinner

I’ve just finished listening to an amusingly bonkers discussion of religious toleration on Radio 4’s Start the Week. Martin Amis is now quite, quite mad. He expressed surprise that hardly any of his Manchester students put there hands up when he asked the question ‘Who here feels morally superior to the Taliban?’ (The correct answer is, of course, ‘You do Mr. Amis.’) From my experience, this is not the kind of question you can expect undergraduate students to put their hands up for. For a more positive response try, ‘who hasn’t got a handout?’, or, ‘who would like a chocolate eclair?’

Thankfully, there were some sane people on the prog, like Jim Al-Khalili, (who I once shared an overly-spiced pizza with in York) helpfully pointing out that Islamic culture had gifted to the world other things besides hook-handed fanatics and suicide bombers.

Shoe-horned into this, very much as after-thought, was a discussion of Milton and liberty. It’s the 400th anniversary of Milton’s birth this year (though not till December) and Prof. Skinner is giving a talk at Christ’s College, Cambridge on 30th Jan on ‘Milton as a theorist of liberty’. If the brief comments on this show are anything to go by, Skinner is continuing with his interesting focus on the discourse of slavery during the English Revolution.

Published in: on January 28, 2008 at 10:22 am  Comments (1)  
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BBC Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine article on oaths of allegiance

My article on the 1723 oaths of allegiance and their possible usefulness for genealogists has just appeared in BBC Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. I’m doubly pleased because it’s the David Tennant issue!

On a more serious note, it seems that the acknowledgement to the British Academy for supporting this research has got lost in the editing process. So I am gratefully acknowledging their financial assistance here.

Published in: on January 10, 2008 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Jerry Springer the Opera Blasphemy case fails

On the basis of 1968 Theatres Act and 1990 Broadcasting Act

Published in: on December 5, 2007 at 3:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Protestation Returns on-line

As part of something I am writing for the BBC’s new Who Do You Think You Are? tie-in mag, I have put together a list of Protestation Returns available on-line. You can find it here


Might be useful for those interested in family history.

Published in: on November 8, 2007 at 2:28 pm  Comments (14)  
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