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Media Masters - David Starkey…

Media Masters with Paul Blanchard welcome to media Masters series of one-to-one interviews with people at the media game professor David Starkey known for his political views is a long-standing member of the Conservative Party and it is frequently on television and radio on Question Time and politics live David has also written and presented a number of documentaries for the BBC channel 4 and CBS on the market particularly in relation to the Tudor period he was awarded a CBE in at2050 honest services the history.

Thank you.

Thank you.

You like being described as a server ca well.

It's a sort of Latin version of the richest man in Britain which is a famous label.

That was pinned up on me that by the Daily Mail do you realise you are actually quoting the Daily Mail the badge of shame it followed it was I supposed the first moment at which.

I became that dreadful Fraser household name it was the Moral Maze it was in the late 1990s it was the early 1990s it was the moment at which Prince Charles's relations with Camilla Parker Bowles first became public knowledge, and there was this extraordinary figure George Austin who was the archdeacon York that was the bishop of York the archdeacon of York sounds great.

It is actually a bit of a nobody is more than that that's right anyway, and he waded into this with his daughter how I use extra marital relations and in those days on the Moral Maze in my position was I was an absolute out-and-out libertarian which is very easy position to hold.

It's a bit like being a mark 6 one of the reasons marks off and get very high marks.

Marks in hahaha in history degrees, is they have a simple framework of analysis that you can pin on to anything libertarianism a bit like that so I went for it and he instantly in Dublin and spoke at length and in those days my technique on the technical talking about technique technique on the Moral Maze was to do verbal caricatures humour is the most devastating way of of winning or losing an argument and as this this man having his way through the inquisition and left the studio iPad in farewell.

Doesn't his fatness his smugness and it's positive genuine they make you want to bomb it but he left the studio and in retrospect.

I felt a bit of a heel turns to do also years.

He I think we knew it was dying you wrote a letter saying can't be friends, which I didn't reply to properly so that made me feel even more ashamed and palm is the finally appeared in the Times which was the leading quote on M6 Magnusson that and the day of judgement against that's that's when the label the rudest man and to cease being a little serious about this.

I have been at course.

I was wrong up the following day in those days.

You know we use by telephone to talk on this strange primitive world at that.

We've left behind those days ago and and all friends friends like a boss.


I have the width reply don't pretend don't worry.

It's worth least 200000 a year and as I then pointed out it turned out to be severe and restaurants.

I suppose it in piano terms, if you've created a note working as right while using it in the same way that phrase about in on the unfortunate archdeacon at the phrase that was pinned on the badge and label and you know what it's it has it's quite fascinating because you've been called the road is Madame you turn up at an event where people have invited to the clearly cowering suddenly expect that you're a server that I kind of lover of words will descend on you say please and thank you.

They look at you with dog like Karate Kid I am now you could you could hear them safe.

Why can't you have you have you seen that you were in libertarian? You're not a libertarian conservative.

I've had developed particularly in the week.

The my partner 4 years ago.

I become much less certain about what I don't believe can I like rum spelt with with his known unknowns and unknown and I remain I think an atheist I Began all those years ago coming to London in the very early days of late when I came from Cambridge to my first job at LSE in 72 weeks was immediately at the beginning of that and you know the notion which we have now is that what gay men want to do is to have partner's children and the dark wood has struck as the baddest thing on God's Earth we wanted to reinvent human relation to sex and everything else and libertarianism that kind of dissolution of existing structures was very appealing.

I now find it rather sad and robbers.

Renault Gear figure at a time of widespread homophobia the conservative organisations who said it it wasn't it? Wasn't that sure yes section 28 on the other hand her relationships with very large numbers of gay men including of course key figures in her cabinet like Norman syndrome glasses.

He was rather than there was a most brilliant Mark cartoon shouting posing in an over tight overcoat in front of a street sign which side of this way, but the large but you know he played the role of Pope favourite in the court of Queen Margaret again.

I can't claim and I really think it's very important to say this I cannot claim that anyway being gay coming out very early as gay never did me any serious damage remember I was at the London School

I was the centre of going radical liberalism at the the different departments had different attitudes.

I remember one aggrieved and in my department at in which I think I III or half of Us were gay including the van Stephenson professor who whose partner and he were the people gave reference Anthony blunt and the aggrieved heterosexual sending this bloody pop it compulsory to be I can't I can't I cannot claim that I was lacerated.

I cannot claim that I was surprised there were people of course who disapproved and there were people made it trying to make it difficult they were usually in the lesser colleges of the London University places like Queen Mary where was the man called Robert Leslie and I remember I was interviewed for a temporary post when s.

Lindof was on leave and I gave it was brilliant as the one that I'm giving it to you now and did not get the job on the word came back to me Robert Leslie and said that me and him.

Yes, but don't worry proper jobs to be done.

I'm in the reason and in retrospect.

I was immensely wise the reason but I said I am getting from the lectin I was very simple otherwise there is innuendo you're surrounded by Warner subtractive young men were of course right through that period well into the 90s.

They were heated scandals if you are out the press and do nothing to you.

It's when you can feel that seems to me to be to be the logic of coming out.

He can be right.


It was very painful for my mother and I was broken in doing it and again.

We do it is the satisfaction to ourselves as a proclamation of being authentic and it was cruel.

It was necessary because without meaning anyone who comes out now.

I mean item is there anyone needs to come out at all now? Because people sexuality that Jennifer but real courage back then because you would you no come on in the old days especially when it was a matter of conscious difference you made very interesting point now with the increase of knowingness and accepted typical form.

Behaviour is to become as I like to the surrounding world as possible hence gay couple hence gay marriages and hence unit.

Dogs in the whole routine which renders you apart from the fact that is male and male or female and female if we are no longer allowed to make those clear distinctions as otherwise indistinguishable from from any other couple we were we were different I think and that difference is an aspect of courage and that difference is also a why gay people are alone with Jews and all sorts of other minorities have actually been in general rather creative most progress and here.

I'm speaking I've only because the homosexuality because of my Quaker background long long forgotten and never really seriously absorbed save in the one thing in my way and I said what it was like not to belong to the majority and human creativity depends on dissent human creativity depends on saying no.

Not accepting the general formulation and that involved these old-fashioned virtues busy one of the things of this world so many things terrible and the attempted imposing awoke and sensors and it is it's quasi-religious for now becomes a matter of orthodoxy and heresy not allowed to do anything else and your burned on Twitter if you want a heresy but this guarantees that fought freezers that there will be no progress progress depends on the allowability of descent again.

What was peculiar until very recently about the government of England and Britain that you institutionalized opposition you had leader of Her Majesty's opposition as a recognised salaried privileged post and because it was for that there should be political dissent that they should be political.

As I said I think that the fact that you don't fit in in almost any way privileges you but you've got to reactions to it during the reaction that I took but I hope the reaction of courage Darren say it to him and slogan do remember you don't you're far too young and there's that wonderful which was better better bleach of them later the sort of out and Proud open about it and that's Courage the other reaction cost to being different is to proclaim victimhood I hate I hate that we now is it worth turn people who self-identify as victims into kind of moral Heroes I love that super inequality.

Victims of which sometimes there are no what we do now of course we characterize whole groups of victims and usually sell Parade itself appointing a new router I can see that you're not but you've also only get called posh, but after her because the way you speak without actually you were brought up in an austere working class, so hopefully it wasn't quite the word it was quite it wasn't rich and and again.

I'm not going to say that I I pushed me and the there are people who are my contemporaries and who genuinely didn't have shoes at superhomes and that kind of thing we were at thanks addicted to my mother and we were what again in terms of just illicit mocha in our days would have all the respectable working class my father had a terrible stretch from his conclusion is apprenticeship on his 21st birthday in 1928 and

1935 at 7 years of unemployment when there was very little on employment benefits but from that point onwards when you moved out the candle where I was born was in employment all the time and he was a shock for Terminal was a metal Turner in in a factory which is basic.

Purpose was to make commercial washing machines and of course the war Returned over the armaments to his horror.

He was a Quaker but he felt the t he was torn between his pacifism because real and his sense of obligation to his wife is her father was living with them and so on and he continued in employment, but it took him to that of course is also interesting because my grandfather lived with me.

I was inculcated into political debate because my father my father is opinion.

There's a Jeremy Corbyn it was a serious socialist he was an active trade union is starting he went to District Secretary of the amalgamated engine amalgamated engineering Union he stood as a local councillor there wasn't elected and he I suppose the position that he have was the Manchester guardian then was at the George Lansbury wing of the Labour Party of the early 1930s which of course is the real reason not not Tory appeasement at that we didn't have rearmament in the 1930s.

It was that it was very very similar to the better educated, but still that was one side of the political debate in our house the other was my grandfather who was a typical working class Tory he came from my family came from.

A Mondeo man would have been a major issue.

Why was he ok? I understand that he was successful.

He was what was called the mule gaffer.

That's to say it was a form and nowadays.

It would be called a junior manager in the meal and someone they were able to buy the house in a nice part and really defined in Made in different from my father was that quality of straightforward English patriotism patriotism.

That's why in the first world war my father did President about even making weapons using them in the second world war in the first world war my grandfather although he was in his thirties by then although we had a family.

He had no need to search.

He actually volunteered in the first world war because of this native patriotism.

You know when you when you listen to Boris Johnson desperately trying to string together.

Why brexit is important with all of these are the measures to rescue places like older men what which remember used to be solidly Tory voting Liverpool was solidly and Winston Churchill as a conservative is first elected in my grandfather told me about voting for him Johnson needs to be recovering that clear sense of national identity and pride which is most which is xenophobia, and it is what my grandfather had was a straightforward pride in being English and there's a very good reason for it and yet as we mentioned earlier about that you the number of genders increasing you know it seems to me that you know a lot of people are losing faith in the concept of nationhood.

Let me know I have friends that they will a nation is just a dotted line on a map and I've got as much in.

Without you know my French friends, I have British on it and now the proud not ashamed of being in do you do you ever see if they can really speak French well, my friends friends can claim to have an absolute affinity with your French press can they actually speak French are they really part of a French culture by the way.

Have you noticed? Whether your friends friends are equally contemptuous about being excellent rental.

They are not there's something very peculiar about the Intelligence of England and there's a famous as the great essays by the Lion and the unicorn at pointing up as a certain kind of English intellectual and he puts it would rather steal from a poor box and stand to attention for the national anthem this picture.

It's Corbett this strange self-hatred being English and in terms of my own profession is broadened into an attack on the mercy of English history.

the whole way in which one is constantly banging on about slavery and the iniquities of the Empire is an attempt to deliver to meeting history and if you have a country with the history of continuous political history 800 years you are consciously trying to undermine that I have friends who will say great regret is that Britain wasn't defeated in the second world war no because then we would recognise that nationhood was floored remember the German pronunciation of nationhood which if you asked the brakes isn't perhaps as strong as it could have been alleged German pronunciation of nationhood is all to do with course with the war and nazism and whatever in the same way that the the theoretical abandonment of nationhood within the EU is because all the constituent countries of the

either been Victor of victim powers in the second player in one Way Or Another defeated or victim powers defeated defeated the Nazis of course themselves defeated and and it's that is that defeats and that defeated some which is the real Foundation of the EU and it's the fact of course Britain was part of that that means it's always been different and separate I'm in all emotes for going in all the Motives of Heath and whatever we needed you to a sense of ungovernable bility of the 70s and particularly due to economic crisis, but there wasn't that sense of the Shared destruction of nationhood on nationalism which again is why there is a constant operation of the second world war and the constant attack on breath and is why the second world war and victory in the

Because it's the very fact that we were a bit too powerful that it is simply a Britain in 1939 14 Churchill which is the only reason for the resistance to nazism and that makes 1 different it makes one separate but of course was also going back and looking at a hugely long stretch of seriously anti European propaganda.

I always describe the Reformation under Henry VIII reformation specialist.

It's the first brexit and the and it's followed of course by 500 years of propaganda against room and it just happens that the you were by the Treaty of Rome I remember my first school trip going back to my dear Mama my first school trip was Tyrone I was the 13-year old my mother looked with horror.

She couldn't really explain to me and he had an order of what were terrible things to be us as you can somebody even dare I say it you must be Irish you mustn't Roman Catholic and a powerful.

You must be divorced these were these are the orders of moral reprobation it was how discipline was talking about council estate.

It was how discipline was preserved if you remember the old Coronation Street with Ena Sharples you never discuss these women like my mother.

They have turbans.

They have finished their and they have folding on and they maintained moral discipline you try and being a boy in a gang with one of those women and no it's ok.

It was my prejudices.

How could she explained to me it looked very serious you said remember wash your hands frequently.

They have very funny toilet habits.

What year are we in now worth in 1958 was that first trip and they did indeed still have issues which are now actually widely regarded by medical professionals as the most healthy way to have you ever seen the message.

We have a party at home that helps you raise your legs and diverted from the working class business you see them again accent.

Why is it what it is? I was an only child my parents were from South Lancashire I was brought up in Cumbria rose water as it now called sounds like a failed Roman legion brought up in Westmoreland the were-rabbit.

I was an only child.

I was not an active child that because I was born with cancer and head and all the rest of it and and I suppose I really learnt to speak as much from the home services.

It was in those days and the third program at which gives me my duchess voice deliberately when I when I went to Cambridge again.

There was a professional northerners people you kind of people don't have trips on that I remember one of them became distinguished academic was known but wonderful phrase from Thomas Hobbes nasty brutish and short and didn't want to join the national northerners, and it was it was I suppose.

I'm in my view was always been joining them and beat them there was never an element.

What is now called Imposter syndrome you come from your absolutely not? Why is Imposter syndrome because in my day that you didn't receive a leg up you had to perform better and every single step in my career didn't depend on doing well.

It depended on doing best and it say something seems to me absolutely as simple as that but you know you can I think it was the other two types of people decent and those that have also found as an employer many people are people have ambition and those that don't know where does your ambition come from because you could have had the impression that to not go to Cambridge and ultimately the LSA but to standard to live and work in a meal.

No not that type of God again.

It was also my school again is the odd experience of being born in a council house and all the rest on the other hand my parents associated with quakerism.

It's now.

It's profoundly middle class upper middle class so we had friends who were very substantial folk in those days for Kendal was recently essentially an industrial town in which most of the companies were actually run by Quakers and because we were part of the meeting and my parents numbered is people who are in class terms will Way way way up as friends and people as people as they also again at my grammar school.

It was a remarkable Tyne abolished in the first wave of comprehensivisation the last time a little school A380 got a new headmaster when I went there a man called James boys Jersey Boys he had been he was I think that point the youngest headmaster in the country was in his early 30s.

He had been a housemaster.

I think rugby before.

Search it and he symbolises the school is probably pretty funny and he didn't quite abolish beating but he nearly about beating and and it was a school me to be completely open the talent.

I became friendly with the other bright Boy Is Mine was an astonishing class 300 class of 22 of US golf open scholarships to Cambridge another exhibition somebody another person in the class went to Cambridge for a postgraduate so nearly of the class Holly absolutely talk about confidence to talk about mediamaster talking about what we're doing now the school was brilliant at public speaking and it was brilliant acting and the only time I was a bit.

The school we had an elocution contest and the very name now arises division and it had three key elements in it you had to be able to recite from memory piece of verse you had to be able to read unseen a piece of prose and you have to be able to do what's called a stump speech and that is given how much I stumbled over the George chef who had hair exactly like Andrew nearly got really bad hair we actually did a review showed some of the all done with Brillo pad and he was fully down of cotton very high platform.

You went up the steps all the school was there are 300 bored.

You know testosterone written boys and you to talk to them and you handed a little.

Did slip of paper which this is your name in 1960 it could be Britain's accession to the European community it could be French cinema.

It could be the National Union of farmers anything and you had no more than took you to walk from the edge of the stage to the centre of the stage before you started speaking on it and I always one was acting by the time.

I was teenager by the time.

I had finished school.

I'd paid at played John Worthington in The Importance I played malvolio brilliant malvolio because I didn't realise I was having the piss taken then finally Becket murdered in the cathedral and state school should be doing that is not so much what you doing what you doing that isn't it is important that people properly grounded in maths and language and English and and and and history that you communicate knowledge, but it's useless.

Don't have that social confidence you don't have that command of language and that command of yourself.

That's what stage school should be doing and the best ones are and I've been to a few and they are there white spots on public so when I when I when I went up to Cambridge unless a public school boy that been to the real ones unless he been to Winchester or whatever we took for granted.

He was a dumbo not and really not really because those days remember numbers of schools that have become public schools.

What and the schools like Manchester Grammar School Dulwich they would Direct Grant that they had this middle ground and flick in the reasons why comprehensivisation was forced but what it did and this is why it's so terrible the threats against public schools it destroyed great schools.

Find my conversion from the Batarian institutions matter is very easy to destroy something like a good school like a good university good country is very difficult to create it and this this passion left wing Desire or indeed liberal desire to tear down to reinvent because some theoretical position of Justice the present may be imperfect but it has virtue's the achievements of Revolutions are normally is the only a single successful Revolution and that's the American was because it changed so little the French Revolution isn't after catastrophe to France and to the world to we realise this until we begin to acknowledge it.

We're simply doomed to repeat this awful cycle of failure that represents unit.

30-year infatuation with quasi Revolution socialism as we're going to at the moment as America seems to be going to at the moment the outcome is invariably catastrophic remember.

It's I think it's nothing is real quick reminder 9.

It's a short the shore sign of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome socialism is sanity do you think social media is accelerating and sanity you think there's a defect that kind of Liberal elite consensuses ultimately there will silence all voices that they don't approve of that.

You must ask me that question because I've deliberately decided to have no involvement on the social media and it seems to me at the only statement of serious authority that David Cameron ever it wasn't only tracks Twitter and and that.

To me to be assertive and don't you want to just go away many hours like most people do now just arguing with numbers on Twitter they just want to shout insults super opportunities.

I can argue with you.

I wouldn't dream of calling you a number that may be the case and I have friends with whom.

I Debate and and what does it sit in the very different way what I think is right.

Let's let's not be serious about the social media.

I think the problem with the social media.

Is there fundamentally on real the nearest thing to them at two things and they're both present in classical political thought there is a wonderful in plato's Republic of the basis of fault.

What is false consciousness false understanding of the world in which he describes the cave and he describes that he says.

Most people are in prison in the dark and space below.

They can't move they can only look forward what they see our Shadows reflected on the wall from the fire.

What is the perfect description of the social media of cinema and television and all the rest of it and and in other words that it's a series of flickering artificial images and which have substituted themselves for reality that you look at somebody I told by train a great deal with stunningly beautiful countryside of people doing looking at some dribble on their iPhone the flickering image people walked through the streets and Miller knock you over because they looking for the not actually engaging with real human beings.

They're engaging with these flickering images be their words or I'll be there videos or whatever.

I think the catastrophe of how the web was set up now.

I use it all the time in other words.

I use Google it's an immensely useful source of should all the rest but the problem is it was set up at by Tim Berners-Lee on the basis that it needed no rules that was set up on that human beings are naturally good.

That is not true again.

You can see the web.

I think the general public transport should tell you that again classic political for which should be taught much more serious than it is enables you to understand what the weather is the web is the State of Nature at the 17th and centric this imagined world before organised societies with laws and whatever develop and the reviews of the State of Nature does the view of the State of Nature Thomas Hobbes

Which is already quoted life is nasty brutish and short without law and in other words.

They naturally bad and need law and Men especially also women to keep them in line and then the other view is the view through so that man is naturally good and it's Society the corruption and what we can now.

See you from Twitter is the Thomas Hobbes is absolutely Russo is absolutely wrong what the weather's desperately needs is ordinary law apply to it and it also needs the abolition of anonymity the past traffic of people going mosque if you see somebody in the street with the mask on there up to no good the wrong and what you do like a bit of banter.

It doesn't cost a bit of luck about in the time of course and I have done a I believe I am told that some of the things that appear as kind of Legends on on.

The one with the most proud of it was with the ghastly we talking about gay Rights with the dreadful Jeffrey Archer this was in the days when I was the front for the name torch the Tory campaign for homosexual equality in which we parody of course Margaret Thatcher support and and we were very much more important than Ian McKellen in that initial reduction of the age of consent from 21 to 18 and I remember appearing on Question Time with it was going on passion got up at 16 and then going on passionately about the absolute need for this compromise couldn't possibly be 16 with the special 21 and I responded by saying I was deeply impressed and thereby a payload Archers careful defensive fencing in this middle position and by the way.

Share with you the audience the reason that Englishmen are so fond of sitting on the fence.

It's because they enjoy the sensation he was like a horrible things should have the best one.

I think was was was 1 years later when I pointed out that everybody else on the team include.

David Dimbleby was hereditary in other words.

They have all the children are journalists or peers or whatever as opposed to the upstart your boobs me.

What are still a talking head on these types of cells do enjoy them because I haven't done question time in years before we started the recording you know if you doing anything on TV you've got 2 minutes 13 seconds.

That's what television has always been like that.

I remember when going right back.

We were talking about my to the programs.

I think one of the first I did and I was I was only remember what it was it was wonderful Elizabethan long gallery at Haddon Hall marvellous.

Green glass and pasta in the Stream in the house is built on a crack so wonderful and I was doing a piece on the Reformation pretty complicated and it was a complicated piece because I have to walk that was track and other words the camera was being rolled up and down on the track.

I was supposed to look meaning for the towards specific pictures and my digital so proud of myself and I looked to the director expecting you know what is a David realise that was almost a minute.

So you didn't then sent away like a whipped schoolboy to reduce.

2/42 which was out but if you but if you're good you can perform something like that exercise of compression.

I loved making television documentaries are rather good, but the test is that real knowledge in order to simplify without making crude in order to make communicable at without doing the parody truly know it you have to know and this is one of the reasons that I disapprove of so many non-expert present.

It's far too much on television is actually the work of producers and the Wikipedia with me Talking Heads who are reading autocue or even the contrived thing where they said they're on a journey that the program single an absolute bargain all about this topic indeed and it's disgraceful.

Destination with the Tudors come from in there have been so popular that I remember from being a Kid III call Mark match on record as saying it's soap opera.

I'm in the Tudors are wonderful the English Greek myths that every being is meta history more than history of course also absolutely central importance in Henry VIII is the actual figure in English history before Henry VIII from the Norman conquest 208.

We were picking normal European country.

It is Henry VIII and the Reformation reinforced by Elizabeth and the second reformation which turns the channel into the wide strip of water in the world on which you do things differently that's not how I got into it.

My purest personal accident in the same way I got in the history by purest bus is really involved.

We acknowledge agency the importance of Charles my best subject at school when I was doing my A-levels weather Sciences physics and chemistry, but I wasn't in natural mathematician and we talked before about two other boys in my class went on to Cambridge they both went to St John's.

I went to Fitzwilliam and they were they were serious mathematicians and a graft in a way that I don't think my teacher get paid in order to be a proper scientist you had to be a natural mathematician I in contrast and natural gift of language, but opted for the arts of that was nearest in terms of evidence argument rigger logic analysis to a science subject which probably done is history because history.

You need as intense critical skills with document survivors.

Immensely fortunate Cambridge to have as my my principal teacher Geoffrey Elton sir Geoffrey Elton was the complete German German style rigorous analytical documentary historian, but I was also very fortunate because of my experience at school and general interest in language and son to have literary skill and it's that combining those two things at that makes it work so I became a historian Innocence by accident and why did I get the Tudors well pretty much by accident again also in my days, Cambridge the wood to dominant figures in the history faculty at there was Jack farm and there was Geoffrey Elton already of the socket with Simon Schama who was a year ahead of me, so I went off to Geoffrey Elton is almost as simple as that television is used to be very driver must have been a dream.

TV commissioners history at all it the anniversary was 2 years ago.

It was a 19th of December of 1977 when in Manchester I was more famous than I've ever been at any subsequent point and the program we now know is actually the first piece of reality TV in Britain this is going to 32 years ago whenever it is amazing.

It was from does the name Russell Harty mean in that wonderful wonderful James the Adventures of fun park in the land of the media from the specific in the land of the media with with an interview with Michael Parkinson

Michael Parkinson interview in each other's mothers and just the parody of a parody of the talk show anyway the wonderfully camp and suppressed get torch in Russell was presenting the program.

So it was called behave yourself which meant it was all about misbehaving and what we did we got a panel of people from a real-life Coronation Street to know but we got them drunk and we got them talking about sex and eating about sex and drinking about sex and connect and close you get the general idea and make it a respectable there was a panel of experts and you had the country who is Kings Cambridge a distinguished animal behaviorist you have the man who was the director would be the anthropological Department of the British Museum it was then the then call the Museum of Mankind the fashionable Harley Street psychiatrist and they were fight trying to find.

Dorian and iron torture young man call Charles kitchen would have been an RAF cadet at but when you actually in other words you mean finance to Cambridge by the join the RAF he discovered deplorable things like the fact you're expected to be sober when you flew a plane that he didn't survive in the RAF and he found his natural television is job defined and a historian fill the slot on behave yourself and he hummed and harred me of the meaning of until another key figure in my life Slater who was found to produce of World in Action and was was was was the director producer at for behave yourself Charles's shoulders, which against you were at Cambridge you read history there must be somebody and Charles gave me the resounding endorsements.


I suppose David Starkey was the least.

With my teeth the whole of my career in television was really found in on that because you can do a Jenny illogical descent on the other hand when I first appeared on that programme The Granada executives with desperate to get me off because I was too risky risky what we're doing what I'm doing there.

I mean I I I got Russell coming out on television when the business in minced suppression as you would have expected back in those benighted days one thing to another you can do it you can do your nails and the trial of Richard III and it goes on and off for the program that the program that really made me was not television it was the Moral Maze and with that man last just died.

Who was the producer David Coombs and I saw your day or two ago.

I saw Michael Burke was the chairman of the program and that.

First program in which I suppose the looseness of structure the fact that it was at least as it worth even it to the right if it was naked by the right.

It was a remarkable program and of course David was totally wicked producer.

He would carefully arrange it as soon as that at certain moments the Booth we've got here and it was carefully arrange.

It says that Michael will be seated at the head of the table and that there were certain positions in which he got himself into in the box where I could see him, but Michael couldn't so Michael will be taken that David I think you're a little bit further.

Please this really really but there was there was always a problem with these people there was a problem with Geoffrey there's problem with my mother there was a

With John Slater they only matching they've invented you and it's what I call and it's the my fair lady syndrome and the notion you've actually created somebody and they want you to be to play want you to be and I'm afraid with all of these people there's been a moment of rebellion on my part and I'm not created by they can help fashion that I am fine and in my own person and I want my own voice the thing that I take most pride in what I've done on television is suddenly after 30 days every single word.

I farted was mine.

I had written it.

I had thought it I owned it.

I researched it and claimed it.

I'll give you a reported 2 million deal with the commission you now, are you insufficiently work? So I'm sure history female audience.

They still do interesting things you know they are with with with the history.

Not that I wanted but they still clearly do very interesting no of course they want and what I was doing then was new I mean you yourself referred to this and if you think of how history was presented in the 1980s and early 1980s and early 1990s things like time watch it was 10:00 garden in which resembles an extremely bad-tempered episode of Newsnight in which you put for historians have different opinions into a room and then the teacher and you had actually no idea whatever was actually going on what was being shouted about and I suppose what Sharma and I did was to go back in television turns to fashion narrative history and depending as it always does as much on the personality of the historian and the style of the storage if you look at the Great

Narrative history rebellion and Macaulay on the history of England and the Gibbon on the Decline and Fall of the Roman empire, it's the peculiar relationship between the subject and the voice of the historian and in our own ways I particularly I think Simon and I must have that maybe two way of communicating very different ways separate views of the past but in a way that survived as I understand it.

I have no idea about the history of Britain I know my own pro pretty much on the constant.

Loop perpetually rebroadcast.

They are which is rather nice to watch of course will Harry and Meghan destroy the monarchy.

I think it's very unlikely to survive many worse things including the execution for King and we have not yet the recommended that as a way of solving the problem of Harry and Meghan I'm not sure that I am really ill.

Royal what I got this label hang around my neck in the 1990s because of course I was one of the few historians who was actually interested in Monica we were talking.

I'm a very odd.

Sort of rebel at when I was growing up in the 1960s and it was known what history should be about you should be doing like my great teacher at Cambridge like Jeffrey and you should be doing the history of institutions and bureaucracy or and like and what what are the what are the people? You should be doing the history of the Soviet Union or like ep Thompson the rise of the working class.

I didn't believe this because I was a rebel.

I'm interested in Old aristocratic societies in societies that will run from the

Because we see what we've tried to do with history is to impose what I call the pathetic fallacy of the Democratic women we assume that change comes from the bottom comes up.

Oh, no, it doesn't almost always is imposed its lead and again.

I wanted to do history different prayers Jeffrey Williams with documents but the document is not the only record of the past.

This is why I love doing television the past is its buildings the past is it music his objects is his clothes it smell it says sanitation and the good historian and this again.

I had the immense good for a to break good for the first was I chose absolutely dead body.

I chose to work on the Royal Court that's the household and something very much like the white house or

Peter Rabbit whatever the groups of people actually surround power and it was fascinating and it was extraordinary and it forced me to do many of these things and then when I came to look after Cambridge in 72.

I moved obviously very different circles and I met one extraordinary figure and a wonderful older gay man to marry Bailey who was the assistant Secretary of the historical manuscripts commission that's am boring when he died that discovered the desk not filled with historical manuscript to the drawn get a pornography because he was a very good, but I've been brought up in the world is now completely you've been brought up in Belgium where is father.

I think a large slice of European railways that was multilingual in French inflammation in in German

English and he was fascinated by what Geoffrey Hilton wasn't Sheffield was just interested in the documents.

We had no sense at all of the real world of Thomas Crapper what show was he understood however Palace worked he understood furniture he understood the decorations.

You know the orders of chivalry, and he understood understood that whole world of values and he inculcated me and I'm sure he fancied me we can go anywhere and he acted as my alternative mental into WhatsApp call the world of material culture that physical world and that's what seems to me to be so vitally important because again this is where I have my problems with feminism and all the rest of it.

We're not or should not be about imposing the values of the present on the past.

Why do it what you are you're trying to?

Different world with different values surrounding your own values, but it's an imaginative exercise in the same way that we nowadays try to avoid for patronage of cultural appropriation.

You need to treat the past with respect to embracing moral relativism.

I am not wipe reach the past you can't improve them.

You can't condemn them you can't change.

It is happen is there is a daughter it's a different way of organising the different way of Being Human and one of the most important things.

I think we should all be doing is recognising human difference.

I don't believe that human has failed to go.

I don't believe that there is an ideal outcome.

I believe that there are lots and lots of different ways of Being Human I know which I prefer that's not the issue and history properly.

Why it is such a wonderful subject it? Is this this immersion in human variety in human different all the great literature the reason why Shakespeare or less wonderful Dickens are so great is the sheer variety of the world and the people there create and the historian or though he bring it in a different way is doing it from evidence and is sharing in that exercise if if you're she is any good.

Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions? You know what's top of the list at the moment? What's next? I never you.

You said I've been ambitious.

I don't really think I have virtually every single time.

I've done it's been offered to me.

I didn't ask to come on the show you ask me and I found that is the case and I've been very good responding.

Opportunities offer I'm like a well trained dog I jump when there is a boat, but I've never had an artfully I have never had a go.

I've never had a shower.

I'm not been like Heseltine I haven't had done in the street on a piece of paper.

He didn't get there either but I never I have never ever operated like that.

I mean what has been the driving force that would be great seriously, what has been the driving Force in my life is both the good and bad a Desire for autonomy to be in charge.

I saw what happened to my parents because of poverty I saw the with my mother in particular sheer burning unfulfilled ambitions.

My mother was a woman brilliant.

No imagination whatever but utterly brilliant intelligence.

Today's world she would be CEO international company and she couldn't go and she had to leave school at 13 because to go to be trained as a teacher involved money and she was one of a family of 3 with only two years between the youngest and oldest and although her parents as I describe my grandfather were quite well.

They couldn't afford the fees for all three children.

So they decided all three children would not be educated rather than just one of them being so which is a tragedy because my mother was head and shoulders about there and she was the one who drove me.

She was the one who told me I had enough drinking very much like that of an Asian or Chinese immigrant family now it which is that Drive pressure to achieve through education and I was fortunate that I was able to do it and how I then reacted to it.

I've already talked about the fact that what I call the big man.

Complex when somebody tries to shape you and make you I'm afraid I reacted against my poor mother.

I did not turn out as she wanted and I took again this this this this of I want to be myself.

I want to make myself and I want to be responsible for myself and I still think that's another girl.

I think it's too individual steak and it was too isolated and I left out the fact that the eminence of autonomy and understanding on your own rock can be hideously lonely experience you get older but then you know we will be so well.

It's the whole can blairite style and it's not about independence or independance is about wearing interdependent species of interdependence we are but I'm afraid I am still in one sense of devout individualist I have an advice.

I've on beliefs bearing in mind.

And I'm rather take a pride in it and I've always believed in doing things differently of course trying to persuade other people to accept your difference and to be entertained by it I love games and not in the sense of Sport will try to test but in the playing the games of language of playing with ideas of passing the if you have no belief in God what on earth is life.

Just some means of passing the time between birth and death and 1 might as well.

Make it as interesting as possible.

I'm looking forward to that actually really nice rest.

I love you changed over the years then because you know you're a very forthright very strong you mentioned it become less libertarian.

How else I mean I've become more tired and more cantankerous over the last 15 years.

I'll never be that miserable because I'm positive I have more than I have a sharp sense of humour and I think that's very important as an intellectual to you can also very important in establishing a sense of proportion.

I look back at episodes in my life and I suppose I acquired and I can state pretty much too few months my quiet what I would call intellectual maturity very different from other forms of maturity.

It was when I was writing up my PhD it was in 7th to the summer of 73 and that point I acquired the literary style that I now have the short sharp sentence the highly structured paragraph be careful.

4 from 1 paragraphs to another and and this type of things that modern society was a waste of time now.

Cos you could you can condense into a tweet then game over there is no point.

It is simply silly and not to be taken seriously and which is why I disregarded that discovery of a particular voice was also as I said, it's a form of intellectual maturity.

I find myself a continuous person from that moment.

I've just finished a big project and which was a very interesting cooperative project but individual voice in which and I didn't start it.

I was again what we was talking about it came to me which is the digitisation of the complete financial records of the reign of Henry VII

Meaning of the reign of Henry VIII and my job was really to work out that because I'm actually in a ministry for storing as well.

How was called the chamber? Not the Exchequer Kings Private chamber, which actually royal finances? How it actually worked and how the king managed it was wonderful for me with two things.

I was using as a foundation notes, which I had first made in the 1960s and I was able to use them as it works seamlessly with the stuff that I was reading from my computer in 2018 now that I found immensely satisfying and looking at my own intellectual development as I discarded ideas, which had formed on the basis of those 4050 years earlier and came up with new ones but nevertheless I was in a dialogue with myself.

I haven't abandoned that early self.

I haven't rejected it.

I prefer.

Academic interests one of the things I find differentiates me from an awful.

Lot of my academic.

Colleagues is most of it turns out would be very interested in their subjects.


They do in retirement is sell their libraries and go on cruises as vivid and interest in history and particularly as I did on my first day as an undergraduate Cambridge that has been absolutely central again going back to the key moments the me one of the great moments was reading that wonderful short 26 page satire on Cambridge by FM Cornford the closest that microcosmographia academica that entitle but it is a brilliant satire on academic politics, but it has this astonishing end to the book images says you are now old.

You're not powerful.

You are now the kind of person that young people say I want to get out of the way the toes that you have trouble like the ones on the seashore, what is going to happen to you now.

Well if you continue to cling onto power you'll be cast away and rightly if on the other hand you return to first interested you that clear operation of a good mind thinking about something serious you would have done something that matters and you will be happy and that seems to me that for me is the key that if you return if you retain that core and Academic interests if you retain that desire to know to learn to extend communicate knowledge.

There is a purpose to you.

Just become some tedious vice-chancellor and you will die you have a Hall of Residence named after you and you will be forever ago so much more about a sense of curiosity actually as well as well, but it's the cookie to Argos from his right.

We are essentially thinking creating and analysing animals and if you lose that or you'll never get it.

You're not fully human.

It's been a hugely interesting conversation have enjoyed it or love it.

Thank you for your time in association with big things Media

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