Tom Holland shares the stories that light up our past
Mary Beard with a year like no other, Helen Castor explodes Britain's victory myths, musician David Hinds reveals a new view of Black Birmingham, and shhh - libraries still rule.
In the first of a new series, Tom Holland shares the stories and new research that light up our past.
With the BBC's iconic wartime comedy Dad's Army entertaining cinema goers, Helen Castor sets out to find if this view of a rather amateurish war effort, in which the British won through against the odds, is really true. She's joined by historian James Holland who argues that Britain's military victory came about through science and industrial expertise that was actually well ahead of the Nazi's. She's also joined by Dr Chris Smith from the University of Kent who claims this is true also in the rigorous approach used by the codebreakers at Bletchley Park.
In Cambridge, Professor Mary Beard settles by the fire to tell us about the year she thinks is the most important in history - 212AD, a year in which everyone who wasn't a slave received citizenship across the Roman Empire.
In Birmingham, musician David Hinds from the band Steel Pulse is taken back to the streets he grew up on, by the remarkable photographic archive of Janet Mendelssohn. Through her lens, we can see just what it was like to live in one of the new, immigrant communities in places such as Balsall Heath and Handsworth. David is joined by Dr Kieran Connell from Queen's University Belfast who has helped put together a new exhibition at the Ikon gallery in Birmingham.
And - quiet please - is the role of the library about to be shelved in this digital age? Young historian and BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker Tom Charlton thinks not. He argues that, for the historian, the library will remain the 'go to' place for new research - however tempting doing it online might become.
Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.
Janet Mendelsohn's Varna Road exhibition:
Pimps and a Cop on the Street
Kathleen Hanging Out
Churchill War Rooms
- Tue 9 Feb 2016 15:00