London’s Greatest Bridges (with Rob Bell)

The series began at London Bridge itself. From an engineering perspective, Bell explained that the wooden Claudian bridge was the first across the Thames , built on no fewer than twenty-nine artificial islands, making it very difficult to negotiate. It was replaced with a very similar stone unit by Henry II. The Haberdashers were very… Continue reading London’s Greatest Bridges (with Rob Bell)

Walking “Tudor” England

Suzannah Lipscomb has just completed another series on Channel Five, this time visiting the sites related to the “Tudors”. In the first episode, she concentrated on Henry VIII and the naval power he inherited from John Howard, Duke of Norfolk. The second was principally about the penultimate “Tudor”, Mary I, as well as Edward VI… Continue reading Walking “Tudor” England

Secrets of the Royal Palaces (C5)

I am rather enjoying this series, with visits to Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral and others, historians such as Kate Williams, Janina Ramirez and Anna Whitelock and art specialists like Jacky Klein as well as Viscountess Hinchingbrooke and several eminent journalists. There is a lot of useful information about English and British monarchs from the… Continue reading Secrets of the Royal Palaces (C5)

A pleasant surprise

In recent years, Dan Jones’ posing and fanciful Crimewatch-style re-enactments, together with Starkeyesque conclusions formed before he started, has marred quite a few series on mediaeval history. Now he seems to have changed tack completely with this series, covering canal building from the middle of the eighteenth century and – yes – I rather enjoyed… Continue reading A pleasant surprise

Britain’s Lost Battlefields (with Rob Bell)

Channel Five’s reputation for history programmes has risen greatly over the past few years. At the heart of this, first in a Great Fire of London series with Suzannah Lipscomb and the ubiquitous Dan Jones, has been the “engineering historian” Rob Bell, who has toured bridges, ships, buildings and lost railways in his own amiable,… Continue reading Britain’s Lost Battlefields (with Rob Bell)

Digging up Britain’s Past

This Channel Five documentary has just completed a second series, with Alex Langlands and Raksha Dave, late of Time Team, in place of Helen Skelton. One particular episode was about Auckland Castle, where the “Prince Bishops” of Durham have lived for centuries and where archaeology is being carried out around the building. One of these… Continue reading Digging up Britain’s Past

Susan Calman’s Secret Scotland

This excellent programme, now on its second series, has seen the diminutive Glaswegian comedienne visit parts of Scotland that she had not previously, “behind the scenes” areas or, in the case of the Borders, driven straight through to work in England. Last year, Calman visited places like Edinburgh Castle (left), Stirling (to fry fish, among… Continue reading Susan Calman’s Secret Scotland

Digging up Britain’s Past: By George, I think she’s got it

This second episode of this Channel Five series, presented by Alex Langlands and Helen Skelton, took us to Elsyng Palace, a North London house built by Henry VIII but with question marks about its precise venue until recently. Very unusually, the presenters clearly stated that the “King’s Great Matter” concerned not a divorce from Catherine… Continue reading Digging up Britain’s Past: By George, I think she’s got it

London: 2000 years of history (channel 5)

Who let Dan Jones out? At least, as in his last outing, he is accompanied both by a historian (Suzannah Lipscomb) and an engineer (Rob Bell), narrating and illustrating almost two millennia of the city’s past. In the first episode, we were taken through the walled city of “Londinium” being built and rebuilt after Boudicca’s… Continue reading London: 2000 years of history (channel 5)

Channel 5’s “Inside the Tower of London”

This four-part series is narrated by Jason Watkins and heavily features Tracy Borman, Joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. The first part dealt with the Peasants’ Revolt, which resulted in Simon of Sudbury‘s beheading and Borman travelled to St. Gregory’s in his home town to view the preserved head. She spoke about the animals… Continue reading Channel 5’s “Inside the Tower of London”