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Friday, 14 February 2014

Michael Scott, I salute you

Imagine the scene, if you will.  At the end of the day I took a break from reorganising my house, having just had the loft floored (thus allowing me to conceal heaps of junk and give Château Grumpy a sense of airy, spacious modernity) and channel-hopped to BBC4, where I chanced upon Dr Michael Scott's TV History offering on The Greeks.  This dealt with the relationship between drama and politics, the decline of Athens and the rise of comedy.  Anyway, I rolled up my sleeves and looked forward to some Snow-esque idiocy that I could sharpen my wits on here. Incidentally, while we're on the subject of Dan 'the history guy' Snow and his idiocy, can someone confirm that he really did say, in part 1 of his awful triumphalistic, jingoistic series on The Royal Navy, "As the Elizabethans gathered here, beneath the dome of St Paul's..."?* I can't find it on YouTube to check.  But I digress.  Back to Michael Scott and The Greeks.  Imagine my disappointment as, in spite of my deeply-held prejudices against TV history, classicists, Oxbridge products and - especially - handsome, successful young men, this turned out be be - I thought - a really good programme.  It did that irritating classicist thing of gratuitously referring to Athens as a democracy at every opportunity.  Sure Athens was a 'democracy' - in much the same way as (or to a lesser extent than) ante-bellum Alabama was a democracy. Other than that, though, I thought it was accessible, intelligent and, for once, presented by a bona fide historian**, the first TV History I have seen that really trod worthily in the footsteps of Michael Wood.  I had been about to blog about who would put the history into public history, so yes, Michael Scott, I doff my hat to you, sirrah.  You bastard. ;-)

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*. Yes.  Here. 22 seconds in.  Cheers, Theo.

** Assistant (or associate) professor at Warwick, or, as a sniffy Torygraph review amusingly called him, deputy professor.  I think we should have deputy professors, not least for the possibility it opens up for reworkings of Bob Marley's 'I shot the Sheriff'.  Also for the possibility of me 'deputising' a posse of grad students.

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