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