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Making History


Series exploring ordinary people's links with the past

Series exploring ordinary people's links with the past
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London, United Kingdom




Series exploring ordinary people's links with the past




The End of Steam. St Edmund. Southall Youth Movement

Tom Holland is joined by the history podcaster and stand-up comedian Iszi Lawrence. In Britain's recent past, a long hot summer has often coincided with racial unrest on our streets - 1981 is perhaps the most notable example. But while we remember events in Brixton, Toxteth and Tottenham, have we forgotten the tensions in Southall during the 1960s and 70s which, some argue, paved the way for better race relations in the UK? Lovejit Dhaliwal visits a Heritge Lottery project in Southall...


The Clockwork Orange Town

Helen Castor is joined by Flora Samuel, Professor of Architecture in the Built Environment at the University of Reading. Tom Holland and Dr Matthew Green take a trip down the Thames to Thamesmead, an overspill "new town" that received its first inhabitants fifty years ago this month, but which is better known as the location used by Stanley Kubrick in his dystopian classic A Clockwork Orange. But was this brutalist solution to London's slum housing doomed from the start, or were some of...


Church Pews and the Medieval Weather Forecast

Tom Holland presents the history programme which connects the past with today. Enthusiasts for Victorian church architecture are furious that the pews designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in Bath Abbey have been dismantled and removed and are to be sold. Supporters of the plan say that it will create a huge space which the Abbey can then use for community events. Of course, back in medieval times most churches had no furniture, so why was it introduced and what can it tell us about the...


The Radio Ballads, Dorothea Lange, Archaeology of the A14

Helen Castor is joined by Professor Lucy Robinson from the University of Sussex. A new exhibition at the Barbican in London features the photography of Dorothea Lange who is best known for her coverage of the dust-bowl depression of mid-west America in the 1930s. Many of her now iconic images were actually staged - but does that alter their historical importance? Helen takes in the exhibition with the historian of race in modern America, Dr Melissa Milewski. The 70th anniversary of the NHS...


Pilgrimage, Overseas cricketers, How the ancients helped build Milton Keynes

Tom Holland is joined in the studio by Dr Marion Bowman from the Open University. As more and more people become interested in making a pilgrimage, Tonderai Munyevu - the star of the play Black Men Walking - joins with members of the British Pilgrimage Trust for a day on the South Downs where they encounter pagans, priests and members of the public. Is a journey into the past a spritual wander or just an excuse for a nice walk? The cricket season is in full swing and following on from a...


Witches, poison and why the hedgehog was unloved in history

Helen Castor is joined in the studio by the historian of witchcraft, Professor Owen Davies. Historian Tom Charlton travels to Manningtree in North Essex - the scene, in the 17th century, of a series of witch-trials instigated by the so-called Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins. Hopkins has gained notoriety for these and other brutal acts against women but he is the one who is always remembered - not the victims. Now a local woman, Grace Carter, wants a #MeToo moment so that the women are...


Coastal change: Overfishing and the death of the seaside

Tom Holland is joined by Dr Matthew Green for a programme that's all at sea. Helen Castor is in Great Yarmouth where local people voted overwhelmingly for Brexit. One of their major gripes with Brussels was the detrimental impact they thought EU quotas had on the town's fishing industry. Dr James Barrett is an archaeologist who researches the medieval fishing communities of Britain and he reveals that, 800 years ago, the fishermen of Gt Yarmouth worked closely with their counterparts across...


Dark tourism, World Cup 1938, The mobile library

Helen Castor presents the first in a new series of the popular history magazine. She's joined today by Dr Jane Hamlett from Royal Holloway University of London. It's 140 years since the UK prison system was nationalised, and Iszi Lawrence visits Shrewsbury with Professor Alyson Brown from Edge Hill University to discover why a change in organisation was needed then. Today, paying customers are experiencing life here at Her Majesty's pleasure - and all over the world people seem to want to...


Gambling, Homelessness, Human trafficking

Helen Castor is joined in the studio by Professor Lucy Robinson from the University of Sussex. As concerns grow about fixed-odds betting machines on our high streets, Matthew Greent takes us back to a gambling crisis over 200 years ago in London. Dr Rachael Attwood explores the dangerous, de-humanising world of nineteenth century human trafficking and, as the numbers of rough sleepers grows on Britain's streets, we find out about homelessness in the past. And the last in our challenge to...


The fight to eradicate polio

Tom Holland and guests highlight histories that help us understand more about the background to some of today's important issues. Helen Castor visits Coventry where, in 1957, one of the last polio epidemics hit the city. Local people were furious that widespread vaccination wasn't brought in, but the fledgling NHS simply didn't have enough stocks and medical experts were concerned about an American trial that had gone wrong. We learn that the government of the day were worried that Britain...


Rage Against The Machine

Helen Castor and her guests take us back to moments in the past when social and economic change conspired to produce the historical forerunners of two of today's most pressing issues - technological change and housing. Tom Holland visits a fruit-packing factory in Kent where, today, much of the work is done by robots. Their introduction hasn't threatened any jobs yet but, half an hour away, are the villages where, in 1830, rural farmworkers raged against new threshing machines they feared...


Tasting the Past

Tom Holland and his guests showcase the stories that are making history. Helen Castor heads for Wales and new scientific research telling us much more about what the Romans ate and how far away they had to source their food to feed their armies. Helen's in Newport, not far from Caerleon which was one of only three permanent fortresses in Roman Britain. Here, archaeologists and scientists from Cardiff University are using dental palaeopathology to discover where the animals that were...


Acid Attacks

Helen Castor is in the chair for this edition of the long-running history magazine programme. Today, she's joined by the historian of Victorian sex, suffrage and entertainment, Dr Fern Riddell - along with an expert on Victorian and Edwardian humour, Dr Bob Nicholson of Edge Hill University in Lancashire. Making History reporter Hester Cant braves the streets of north London with Fern Riddell to dig into the nasty past of acid attacks on the capital's streets, and a nineteenth century...



Tom Holland is joined by Dr Alice Taylor from King's College in London and the historian of pop culture, Travis Elborough. Helen Castor charts the course of the Prague Spring, that period of liberalisation in Czechoslovakia brought in when Alexander Dubcek became leader in January 1968. She hears from those who were there and those who study that period now and asks whether people had any inkling what an extraordinary year it would be. Alice Taylor introduces a new project which will...


Who was Saint Stephen?

Helen Castor is in the chair for a festive edition of the popular history magazine programme. She's joined by Professor Miri Rubin from Queen Mary, University of London and Tony Collins the Professor of Sport at De Montfort University in Leicester. On this feast of Stephen, Tom visits Norwich to find out more about the character who met a violent death and became the first christian martyr. He talks to the choristers who will be singing Good King Wenceslas in the city's grand Norman...


The Charter of the Forest

Tom Holland with the last in the series, exploring new historical research and resonances. We travel to Durham to examine the world's oldest piece of environmental legislation, the Charter of the Forest which was made law 800 years ago in 1217. Tom reveals how travellers from Heathrow may well be taking off from one of the most important Iron Age sites in the UK. We also hear memories of family holidays from a unique collection in Leicester and reveal how key figures in Russia's October...


Being Gay Before Gay Lib

Helen Castor takes the hot seat for the programme which shows why history matters. Today, testimony about coming out before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 and what we know about the lives of gay people in Victoria's Britain. Iszi Lawrence discovers that the 'gig' economy was widespread in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And Tom Holland is on Tyneside to celebrate the history of a building which played host to an almost forgotten intellectual revolution. Producer:...


Hadrian's Wall

Tom Holland travels north to mark the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian becoming Emperor, by examining the impact of his biggest legacy in Britain - Hadrian's Wall. We also take-off for Heathrow to learn about its Iron Age origins and ask if a mound near a car park in Slough could really be a Saxon burial site. Producer: Nick Patrick A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.


Jack Monroe and Rationing in the First World War

Helen Castor is joined by Dr Sam Willis to discuss food shortages in the First World War, Silk Roads, the history of the duffle coat and Franklin's infamous last voyage. Food blogger Jack Monroe heads for the National Archives to learn how the submarine war in 1917 presented a serious threat to food supplies. She discovers that the rationing put in place then was successfully used again in World War Two. Tom Holland meets the author of the best-seller Silk Roads, Peter Frankopan, to ask...


Segregation in wartime Britain

Helen Castor and her guests discuss the history stories that are alive today. Seventy five years on from the first American bomber raid taking off from British soil to attack targets in Nazi-occupied Europe, poet Sugar Brown hears how the thousands of Yanks who arrived in the UK in 1942 were segregated by race - both when they were in uniform and when they were out on civvy street. On the eve of the announcement of the Art Fund Museum of the Year, we hear from two retired ladies who, having...