Interview with Dan Snow
We see Dan Snow is on our tv sharing his love and passion for history with us, and his knowledge and enthusiasm is certainly catching. We hade a chat with him about his tour, new tv channel and lots more…
Have you ever toured before?
I haven’t but this year is a special year for me as I have launched my own tv channel. History Hit.tv it works like netflics, you pay a small subscription and then you become a member and can watch all sorts of great programmes celebrating history! We have lots of BBC documentaries on there, we have things that we are making as we go along and other programmes from other networks too, so a great mix of stuff for people who love history – so far 100 hours of history programmes on there.
You seem to cover a vast range of historical periods and topics; do you have a favourite period?
Yes I do indeed, the 1700’s is endlessly fascinating when this little island of hours that had been a peripheral player suddenly became turbo charged, the industrial revolution, victories over France and Spain and the birth of modern liberal ideas about economics.
It turned the map pink……
It did indeed and it changed the way we live and think and worship, hugely important.
Is there a particular figure in that period….
Well it is difficult to look beyond Nelson, a totally remarkable human being and then there are the industrialists like George Stephenson who was busy inventing the railway, and not only the railway but the tracks, the signals, the whole thing. You have Adam Smith thinking about ideas and you have people in every field….Captain Cook undertaking the most extraordinary journey in British history…
Yes, you do wonder what was in the drinking water!
You really do, it is a fundamental point, how and why was it such an incredible period and indeed how do we replicate that dynamism and level of achievement.
Many of the worlds greatest monuments are inspired by the various religions and I know that you are a committed humanist, so what or who do you think is going to inspire us going forward? What might a future generation of artists and architects produce?
I think they are producing things already, we aren’t spending as much on religious buildings as we were, but we have put a robot on Mars so while Louis XIVth of France and Henry II spent money on cathedrals we are just spending it elsewhere and I would argue that those are the things which are equally marvellous and remarkable.
Would you ever want to go to space?
Of course, I would I would love to see the world from up there and I am sure it will come in our lifetime, to have that opportunity.
You have done some extraordinary broadcasts from the live stream periscope broadcast from the Mary Rose to Operation Grand Canyon and some of them have been quite adventurous, have you ever had a ‘Gosh I rather wish I hadn’t done this moment?
In terms of official BBC programmes, going to Syria and the Congo during the civil war is up there, it was both remarkable and stressful; leaving my baby daughter to go off was very stressful.
Are you ever tempted to collect antiques?
I really am not, I don’t hanker for Napoleon’s special toilet seat in my house! I like people to be able to see things and share them so I am a huge fan of museums and public collections. Collectors, of course, are really important in finding and saving things but you will never find me in my secret room with my collections!
Is there a country in the world you haven’t been to?
There are so many, I don’t think I have even scratched the surface, I haven’t been to Brazil or Columbia, Bolivia Uruguay – I have never explored those wonderful pre-Columbian cultures or Central Asia, the South Pacific and even places I have technically ‘been to’ I have spent no time in. I spend 3 days in Moscow but that really doesn’t count! I don’t think I have finished exploring Britain and Ireland yet, so lots to do.
When you go on holiday do you lie on the lounger with a book or get exploring?
Sometimes the family are with me and so we do whatever I do together, great fun, holidays and work seem to merge but it is a happy merger!
You have a new book out too….
The book is called On This Day in History, 365 little vignettes that help to cast light on stories from our past. Every day there is a reference to something that happened on that day in history – and history as therapy is really important to make us realise how lucky we are to be living when we are.
And finally what is the next thing you are looking forward to?
I am going to Timbuctoo to have look round and to see the scrolls and those wonderful churches and see how they have all survived, so there is lots to see and lots to do. I like flying and as I do that, I can do research too. I am just so lucky to love what I do, there is no greater privilege than to have a passion for something and do it as your job.