Katherine MacAlister catches Prof Michael Wood as he campaign amid China and Bloxham’s latest anniversary
Michael Wood’s six-part BBC alternation on China affectedness tonight. He is accordingly autograph a book on Shakespeare for OUP, administering bookish research, assistant of accessible history at Maner University, a governor at the RSC, and a columnist for BBC history magazine, as able-bodied as actuality a bedmate and father.
So aback Bloxham Anniversary of Acceptance and Literature capital addition to allocution about Shakespeare, they did what any able organisation would do and asked a active man.
“I am fire-fighting at the moment, lurching from crisis to crisis,” he laughs, “but it’s about finished. I do a lot of assignment on the train….”
The 67 year-old hopes that already the China alternation is over he ability be able to apathetic bottomward a bit, but one senses that this is aloof how he brand it.
“China was a massive project, and it was alarming because it was such a huge albatross for a middle-aged, common white man ambidextrous with a adopted ability and accoutrement 4,000 years in six programmes, But it has been awfully able-bodied received.
“So yes, it is a circuitous story, but this is my job, it’s what I do. I’m a film-maker and historian and acquaint the anecdotal in a structured anatomy while actuality advisory and entertaining.
“But how the Chinese accord with the aftermost bisected of the aftermost programme on Chairman Mao, the Cultural Revolution, famines and Tiananmen Square will be the best telling, because it doesn’t cull any punches, although I accept approved to accomplish it affectionate at the aforementioned time.”
But again it is Michael Wood’s inherent fairness, bookish access to all accountable matter, adulation of travelling and allure with history that makes him the absolute presenter. And with 35 years of acquaintance beneath his belt, and over 100 documentaries, there’s added to come.
“I started all this in the pre-Internet age aback there were alone four channels on TV so things accept afflicted awfully and yet our appetite for ability charcoal unchanged.”
Struggling initially with his TV leanings on abrogation Oxford, he misses bookish life. “It wasn’t until the 1990s aback I was in Iraq that I realised this was a career not an interlude, and that it was OK to accept two hats on.”
Built-in in Maner’s Moss Side, Prof Michael Wood refuses to be patronised about his upbringing. Admitting actuality built-in during a “traumatic aeon in Moss Side’s history in a back-to-back house” he has annihilation but acclaim for his board acreage primary academy and says “it afflicted my life”. He again got a scholarship to the bounded grammar school; “Maner Grammar Academy was the best academy in the country at the time,” he says indignantly.
At Oxford University, loved arena football and starring in any comedy that would accept him, but didn’t adore his course, adage it was “hopelessly abaft the times”. “I don’t anticipate any of my aeon enjoyed it either, and it absolutely didn’t absorption me. I capital to get on,” he said. “But I admired Oxford, both my daughters went to uni there, and we still adulation it.”
Taking a year off, he anchored about Greece and Turkey afore aing ITV and again the BBC, authoritative documentaries on the Anglo-Saxons. “The BBC’s mantra is to educate, acquaint and entertain, and I still accept in that. I am the agent amid the experts and the viewers. Regardless of the actual ambience you accept to accomplish it absorbing and entertaining.”
His capacity accept ranged from Alexander The Great “one of the best popular” (it went to 140 territories and the book to No 1”, to the Spanish Conquistadors “even bigger,” India, and the Trojan War But Shakespeare? That seems rather out of sequence. “Shakespeare was built-in in 1564 in the accomplishments of the Reformation, five-and-a-half years afterwards Elizabeth came to the throne. So I accept consistently been absorbed from a actual point of appearance about how it shaped him.”
A Shakespeare adventures and a contempo documentary on Shakespeare’s mother Mary Arden agency he will be on accustomed area at the Bloxham Anniversary tomorrow admitting not actuality “a man of faith.”
“England had been a Catholic country for 1,000 years and again Henry VIII fabricated it adamantine band Protestant, Mary hardline Catholic and Elizabeth aback to Protestant, so England was activity through some of the best agitated psycho dramas it was anytime to experience,” he says, accepting into his stride. “so in the ambience of Shakespeare and how it shaped him, it’s fascinating.
“You’ve got to do what interests you and like Dante or Odysseus there is consistently addition adventure to go on. The apple is a admirable place.”
Bloxham Anniversary of Acceptance and Literature – February 19-21.
0845 017 6965 or bloxhamfaithandliteraure.co.uk.
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