Ian Hislop's Stiff Upper Lip - An Emotional History Of Britain

Ep 1/3

Tuesday 2 October



In his new three-part series, Ian Hislop asks when and why we British have bottled up or let out our feelings, and how this has affected our history. Exploring emotion and identity over the last 300 years, Ian gives us his personal take on our evolving national character.

In the opening episode, Ian reveals how and why the stiff upper lip emerged 200 years ago in a country that, until then, was surprisingly touchy-feely and often awash with sentiment. The programme features extraordinary characters, such as aspirational young Scot James Boswell, plagued with anxieties about showing his feelings in fashionable London, and Mary Wollstonecraft, who argued that women’s heads should rule their hearts, but failed to practise what she preached. This was a time of profound transition for Britain - and how it expressed its feelings - which Ian encapsulates with the tale of two very different national heroes: Admiral Nelson and the Duke of Wellington.

Along the way, Ian finds himself playing cricket on the Champs-Élysées, discovers some 200-year-old merchandising David Beckham would be proud of, and reveals why we have the great British Bulldog, and not the British Cock, as a national symbol.