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Helen Castor with topical history. Will Brexit be another chapter in the history of the Irish border? The Victorian Bosom Caresser, the history of crying and the People's Plinth.

In the first in a new series of the topical history programme Helen Castor is joined by the historian of women in medieval Ireland, Dr Gillian Kenny and Dr Jennifer Redmond who lectures in Twentieth Century Irish History and is President of the Women's History Association of Ireland.

Tom Holland is in Northern Ireland, close to to the border with the Republic near Enniskillen. There are no customs officials or soldiers these days but will Brexit change that? Tom meets the historian Seamas McCannay and geographer Bryonie Reid to ask whether the 95 year-old history of a border between North and South can help us understand what the future for Britain's only physical connection with Europe might be.

Dr Bob Nicholson of Edge Hill University heads to Liverpool on the lookout for Bosom Caressers, Corpse Revivers and a real Eye Opener. These are all cocktails, described in a Victorian song which Bob has discovered in his research and which has led him to question our perception of the Victorian middle class as abstemious and upright citizens. He spends an afternoon drinking to further his historical research.

There won't be a dry eye in the house as we consider a relatively new sphere of historical endeavour - the history of emotions. Dr Thomas Dixon at Queen Mary University of London kicks off a short series by considering the history of crying and, in particular, the history of men crying.

And which character from the past do you feel that history has forgotten? We ask historians, writers and those in the public eye to suggest the overlooked individuals who really should be on the People's Plinth. Sue MacGregor suggests Ellen Kuzwayo, women's rights activist and president of the African National Congress Youth League.

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

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28 minutes

Last on

Tue 2 Aug 2016 15:00

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Helen Castor and guests return with a new series of the topical history programme.


Joining Helen is Dr Gillian Kenny from Trinity College Dublin


Dr Jennifer Redmond from Maynooth University in Ireland who is President of the Women’s Historical Association of Ireland.



Brexit and the Irish Border


Post Brexit, Tom Holland travels to Northern Ireland to find out more about the imposition of the border between Ulster and the Republic; soon to become, the UK’s only land border with the European Union.


Tom meets local historian Seamas McCanny and the Cultural Geographer Bryonie Reid who worked on the Irish Borderlands project run by Queen Mary University of London



The History of Emotions - Crying


Dr Thomas Dixon, Director of the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London explains why the British stiff upper lip was maybe a blip in the psychology of the nation.



Queen Mary University of London



Victorian Cocktails


Inspired by the lyrics of a Music Hall song, Dr Bob Nicholson from Edge Hill University examines the Victorian fascination with American cocktails.


Dr Bob Nicholson


The Digital Victorian




Plinth People


Is there a forgotten character from history who you think deserves to have their statue on a plinth? Sue MacGregor suggests Ellen Kuzwayo who was active in the ANC in South Africa during the Apartheid era, particularly in the township of Soweto


The Guardian




Making History is a Pier Production for BBC Radio 4