Mon, 11 Jun 2018
DAN Snow visits the Corn Exchange on Wednesday with An Evening with ‘The History Guy’ We talk to him about the show
What was the motivation behind your first live tour?
When you’re making television and podcasts, it’s very lonely. You sit by yourself and think ‘Is anyone watching?’. That’s why TV presenters take to Facebook Live. That gives you the number of viewers at the bottom of the screen. It might be only five people, but at least you know someone is there.
Doing live events at book festivals and book launches is a huge treat because you get to meet people. It’s an enormous boost to the confidence to know there are people out there following what you do.
The tour is the first time I’ve done this in an organised way where we’ve been able to build a proper show. It’s a great chance to meet people and say thank you to those on whom my career depends. I’m really looking forward to it.
What will you be talking about in the show?
A large chunk of the show will be about local history. It will have direct relevance to the place we’re in. That’s not difficult to write. Just looking at the list of venues, I can see I’m going to St Albans. That was an incredible Roman settlement that was destroyed by Boudicca. I’m also visiting Shrewsbury. That was the site of the Battle of Shrewsbury, where Henry IV defeated a rebel army led by Henry ‘Harry Hotspur’ Percy. I’m going to Newark, too, which has really unusual fortifications.
Do members of the public help with your research?
Yes they do. I get lots of messages on my Facebook page. There is so much history out there it’s ridiculous and I find the stories that people send me fascinating. I am really looking forward to interaction with the audiences at my shows.
Do people want to recount their personal histories, too?
Yes they often want to tell me all about their family history or the part their family played in history, like a soldier in the First World War. A huge number of people tell me stories about their ancestors. They will say something like: “My father was the first black RAF pilot.” Listening to them, you realise how many firsts there are.
Can you explain your passion for history?
I love history. It’s everywhere. It’s everything that ever happened to anyone who has ever lived on this planet. It also means that I’m never bored on a train journey. As you travel, you see names that echo from the past. Every place has a history – wasn’t there a siege in the Civil War there?
Tell us about your channel, History Hit TV.
Life is very exciting at the moment. Our podcasts have a million listeners. It’s no longer about going to a publisher and waiting for a commission. It’s about going out there and making instant connections with people. I love doing the podcast because of its simplicity and speed. I recently spoke to a 94-year-old Second World War veteran. He told me that Montgomery pinned the medal on his chest after D-Day. I said to him ‘Let’s end this conversation. I’m coming to see you now’. The podcast is also so important for breaking news. When the story recently broke about the Bayeux Tapestry coming to the UK, I immediately got Marc Morris, legend of Norman studies, on the phone and recorded him for my podcast that evening. The podcast gives you such
freedom and immediacy.
Did you inherit your love of history from your family?
Yes. My dad is fantastic on the heritage side. I inherited that from him. He has relentless energy and was always taking us to different places as children. Also, my Welsh grandma, Nain, was a huge storyteller. She taught me to give history a human element and to bring it alive. I hope my history is very real and vivid because of her.
Dan Snow also runs his own online TV channel, History Hit TV (https://tv.historyhit.com/), which brings you great history documentaries and podcasts, and has a regular ‘history’ slot on BBC's The One Show.