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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

Press Release

How God Made The English – new three-part series for BBC Two

In a new three-part series for BBC Two, How God Made The English, Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch explores how English identity has slowly been shaped by the interplay of Church and State over the last 1,400 years.

"Who are the English?" is a topical question, discussed time and time again by columnists, presenters, journalists, novelists, poets and every single Prime Minister in the last two decades. The conventional wisdom is that there is a neat, static and ageless set of characteristics that define the English.

Throughout the series, Professor MacCulloch will explore this notion of a timeless "Englishness" and will argue that, in fact, English identity has changed over time, and that these changes are a result, not of the usual suspects of politics, wars and economics, but a product of religion – in particular Christianity and the Church.

Speaking about the series Diarmaid says: "Now that Great Britain is so radically questioning its future, it's all the more important to find out who the English really are. And what we've discovered as we've gone looking will surprise many: Christianity created Englishness, and there was an English Church before there was England. Given that past, where does Englishness go in a modern nation of many faiths and none?"

How God Made The English has been commissioned by Aaqil Ahmed, BBC Head of Religion and Ethics and Commissioning Editor for Television.

Aaqil says: "Diarmaid MacCulloch's knowledge and passion for the subject of how the Church and Christianity have shaped our society will enable viewers to get an important insight into the debate about what is means to be English and indeed, British today. It's a fast-changing story with many twists and surprises and I can't think of anyone better placed than Diarmaid to take us on this important journey into our past and potential future."

The Executive Producer is Jean Claude Bragard and the series is being directed and produced by Anna Cox and Gillian Bancroft. How God Made The English will be shown on BBC Two later this year and is a BBC Vision Production.

Notes to Editors

Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church, in the Theology Faculty of Oxford University; he is a Fellow of St Cross College, and a Fellow of the British Academy, and he co-edits the Journal of Ecclesiastical History.

He has written extensively on Tudor England; his biography, Thomas Cranmer: A Life (Yale UP, 1996), won the Whitbread Biography, Duff Cooper and James Tait Black Prizes. More recent prize-winning publications from Penguin/Allen Lane have included Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490-1700 (appearing in the USA as The Reformation: A History), and his latest, A History Of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (in the USA, Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years), which won the 2010 Cundill Prize, the world's largest prize awarded for history.

Professor MacCulloch was the presenter of BBC Four's A History Of Christianity which won the Radio Times Listeners' Award in 2010.

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