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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




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...


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...


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,...


The Dunkirk Spirit

Tom Holland is joined by Dr Dan Todman from Queen Mary University, London and Professor Lucy Robinson at the University of Sussex. Britain's retreat from Dunkirk in 1940 was a precursor to the fall of France and a summer in which it looked like Britain too would be be overwhelmed by the Nazi war machine. The evacuation of thousands of troops from the beaches of Northern France in an armada of boats of all shapes and sizes has been spun into a defining moment when the plucky Brits snatched...


The Stonehenge Tunnel

Tom Holland goes behind the headlines to look at the stories making history. Helen Castor travels to Salisbury Plain to hear more about a growing row between archaeologists and our leading heritage organisations about plans to build a tunnel under Stonehenge. She discovers how, increasingly, it isn't iconic Stonehenge that is at the centre of researchers' thinking but the wider and even more historic landscape. In Lincolnshire, Carenza Lewis and a team from the University of Lincoln are...


The English Pearl Harbour

Tom Holland returns with the history magazine that showcases the latest research and demonstrates the relevance of the past in the present day. The Dutch Are Coming! 350 years on from a daring Dutch mission up the Thames estuary, in which the flagship of the English fleet was taken and Sheerness captured, we ask whether this was the pinnacle of power for the Netherlands navy and how the international ambitions of both countries in the 17th century may also have helped shaped their response...



Tom Holland and guests discuss the stories that are Making History. Helen Castor is joined by Stephen Chalke and former Sussex cricket captain John Barclay to discuss the origins and rather odd structure of English (and Welsh) county cricket. Iszi Lawrence heads to North Yorkshire to hear a story of divorce and betrayal from the 1st century and the forgotten queen who was central to both. And the former head of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper, takes us to South America to remind us of...



Helen Castor is joined by Professor Ted Vallance from the University of Roehampton and Dr Alex Woolf from the University of St Andrews. On the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, Dr Tom Charlton heads to St Paul's to learn how preparatory work by Sir Christopher Wren and the storage of printers manuscripts fuelled the inferno. Afterwards, the building lay in ruins and accusations flew freely - many suspecting the destruction of the historic church was the work of Catholics....



Tom Holland is joined by Dr Lucy Robinson from the University of Sussex to consider jazz in the trenches, woad and the women behind the Notting Hill Carnival. Helen Castor meets Dr Michael Hammond, Associate Professor at the University of Southampton, to hear about Blues in the Trenches. Dr Hammond argues that 'the blues' as a musical tradition was brought to the trenches of the Great War by African-American soldiers from all parts of the US and they shared different performance styles and...



Helen Castor is joined by the architectural writer and cultural commentator Travis Elborough and garden historian Deborah Trentham. Tom Holland takes a ride on Brighton's new attraction, the British Airways i360, and is joined at 450 feet by Professor Fred Gray to gain new insight into the history of seaside attractions. Surprisingly, the new doughnut on a stick (as locals are describing it), offers similar experiences and challenges to those of the West Pier which opened 150 years ago. In...



Tom Holland considers historical revelations with a resonance today. He's joined by two archaeologists - Professor Carenza Lewis from the University of Lincoln and David Miles, the former Director of Archaeology and Chief Archaeologist at English Heritage. As combine harvesters tear into Britain's corn crops, David Miles takes us back to the birth of farming and the transformational period that was the Neolithic. Iszi Lawrence changes into her running gear to recreate the Battle of...