Friday 27 November 2009


Andrew Marr's BBC History of Modern Britain wends its weary way. Where it's going to we know only too well. Last week the ebullient one told us that the 1930s depression was depressing. The week before that he told us that the Roaring Twenties was roaring. The week before that he told us there was a Great War in 1914-18 and it was full of, er, war. Before that we had a Boer War (with the Boers apparently) and next week we're in for a Second World War which involved a war, apparently.

If ever you wanted proof of the need for Universities to exist in order to (at least) try to be original and show you something different, and make you think, Marr's miserable series does that. He is as incapable of telling you anything calmly as he is incapable of telling you anything original. We go Boer warring, warring warring, roaring roaring, and depressing depressing, only to be followed predictably enough in the 1940s by more warring warring, followed by more post warring, and more post warring roaring, only to be told that by the 1960s everyone was SO SHINEY NEW they were having sex whenever they wanted it EVEN THOUGH it was STILL just like the old times with more warring warring only this time in a different place called Vietnarm and with Jimmi Hendrix not Vera Lynn doing the singing singing.

Cut now to 50 years ago. Old man with bow tie walks to camera and starts somewhere you dont expect it, telling you original things that you will never forget. He looks up occasionally. Then he's finished and, not only do you now know about the Great War, you know something of war itself. He does all this withot a prop, or a gimmick, or even AN EMPHASIS. But he does it all the same. A J P Taylor may not have been propped, and he may not have been gimmicked, and he may not have been EMPHATIC, but he held you all the same.

For about tuppence by today's prices.

HEADS UP POSTGRAD HISTORIANS! We need you now more than ever.

Cut now to