Histories of the UNEXPECTED

Histories of the UNEXPECTED

United Kingdom

Histories of the Unexpected explores the past in ways that you never dreamt possible. Surely there’s nothing unexpected about the past? About History? Aha, well Histories of the Unexpected adopts a new approach to exploring our past. Gone is the traditional linear plotting of battles, monarchs and political movements. Histories of the Unexpected argues that everything has a history. Presented by Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell. Series Producer: Dan Morelle

Episodes

The Party  

It’s our 10th episode!

So blow out the candles, cut the cake and make a wish!

You are cordially invited to join the Cultivator of Chronicles, Dr Sam Willis, and the Tim Peake of Time, Professor James Daybell as these history DJs get the unexpected history of the party started.

From garden parties to peripatetic English monarchs, from the vomiting ladies of the court of James I to the myth of the Roman Vomitorium, there’s much to celebrate as Sam and James make the links between Edvard Munch and wallflowers and bacchanalian excess and yelling at cider trees in an English orchard. And, of course, no real party could be complete without the furniture being trashed, or in the case of John Evelyn a much-prized 400ft long, 9ft high and 5ft wide, now no longer impenetrable hedge. Wow did those Russians know how to party! Keith Richards had his T.V. set, Keith Moon his exploding toilet, Aerosmith their chainsaw, and Peter the Great … a wheelbarrow.

“Here’s to thee, old apple tree,
Whence thou mayst bud,
And whence thou mayst blow!
And whence thou mayst bear apples enow!
Hats full! Caps full!
Bushel – Bushel – sacks full,
And my pockets full too! Huzza!”

(South Hams, Devon, 1871 Wassailing song – in case you wanted to sing to the cider trees).

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPdcst HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

Boxes  

Boxes, coffins, letter, houses, locks and more. Sam and James audio-google their way through the unexpected history of boxes.

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPdcst HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

The Letter  

This week Sam and James discuss the historical significance of The Letter.

Bubble  

The unexpected history of the bubble, which is all about the history of childhood and innocence as well as fate and fortune, champagne, bottle strength and taming the bubble.

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPdcst HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

Hair  

This episode is all about the unexpected history of hair. Which is all about the Duke of Wellington, and scalping!?.

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPdcst HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

Lightning  

This episode is all about the unexpected history of lightning. Which is all about American independence, and Horatio Nelson's front porch...

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPdcst HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

Gloves  

All about power and politics, the perfumed glove as a political gift, the history of the hand, and the history of touch. It's also about explosions and the Japanese industrial revolution.

Smoke  

This episode is all about the unexpected history of smoke. Which is all about state craft and diplomacy. It's ritualised smoking of the peace pipe. And it's to do with smuggling and public execution.

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPdcst HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

Oranges  

Find out about the unexpected the history of the orange, how it's linked to the the Gunpowder Plot, and other extraordinary historical connections.

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPdcst HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

Windows  

Find out about the unexpected the history of the window, how it's linked to the 30 years war, and other extraordinary historical connections.

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPdcst HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

Introduction  

Surely there’s nothing unexpected about the past? About History? Aha, well Histories of the Unexpected adopts a new approach to exploring out past. Gone is the traditional linear plotting of battles, monarchs and political movements. Histories of the Unexpected argues that everything has a history. The history of the itch, the history of crawling, the history of clouds or of lightning, or of zombies, or zebras or holes or perfume or rubbish all have fascinating histories of their own, histories that can change the way you think about the past and present. Take the orange. We do not want to teach you who was the first to discover the orange, or grow it, or import it; we do not know who was the first to make orange juice. We want to tell you the unexpected history of the orange. We want to tell you how it was used to make secret ink and was instrumental in the Gunpowder Plot; we want to tell you how the history of the orange is actually about the invention of clinical trials, modern medicine and dogs. We believe that this is the way to get history to give you a buzz of excitement as you come to realise how everything links together in unexpected ways. It is a fun game to play. The history of the party? Ah, well that’s all about treatment of mental illness in the nineteenth century. The history of the bed? Obviously, it is to do with the expansion of the British Empire and the movement of armies. The zebra? Well that’s about submarines in the Second World War and Victorian eccentricity. The box? Now that’s about memory and epidemics…. How about the smile? The pen? Gloves? Lightning? Dragons? Blood? Sweat? Tears?.... Histories of the Unexpected explores the past in ways that you never dreamt possible. Histories of the Unexpected will blow your mind. Histories of the Unexpected is the BBC’s Dr Sam Willis and Plymouth University’s Professor James Daybell. Series Producer: Dan Morelle

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