Our guide to the best events in and around Devon
Dan Snow is passionate about history, the subject he studied at Oxford University. As a child his weekends were spent exploring castles, battlefields, country houses and churches with his family – his dad is journalist Peter Snow – and has his own connection with our past as the great-great-grandson of Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
He is embarking on a theatre tour this month with his show Dan Snow – An Evening with the History Guy to try and engender a little of his enthusiasm for his subject in all of us. He says he’s looking forward to the 42-date tour which will take him all over the country, including two Devon dates. “It’s fun,” he says reassuringly. “I love being on the road and seeing new sites. I get up early and have a little walk and explore, and I visit museums and interesting places.
“I love exploring and we’ve got an amazing history in this country. Wherever you go you’re never far from a world-class historical site. In Devon that is never more true. It’s been a great joy to explore Devon. Look at Dartmouth – it’s got everything going for it: Mediaeval history, a connection with the One Hundred Year War with France, World War Two naval history. It’s all there.”
Dan runs his own online TV channel History Hit TV, has a regular history slot on The One Show and has many excellent documentaries on his CV including the Bafta awardwinning series Battlefield Britain which he presented with his dad.
Dan credits his entire family with his interest in history. “Growing up surrounded by people who loved history, I just drank it all in. We talked about it, we visited places and we were all interested in it. What brought it to life was that mum and dad were both great communicators and they would tell us amazing stories. They were both journalists and mum would talk to us about why she was in Libya getting bombed and dad would talk about his time in Kuwait.”
Dan will share with audiences stories of their own local history as well as anecdotes of his broadcasting career all accompanied by compelling digital imagery. The show ends with a Q& A session.
Having grown up surrounded by history, Dan is happy to pass his passion on to his own three children. “They’ve got no chance,” he laughs. “Only last weekend we were in the Shipwreck Museum on the Isle of Wight. We’re going to sites all the time.” Dan Snow – An Evening with the History Guy is an Exeter Corn Exchange on 23 January and at the Princess Theatre, Torquay on 20 March.
A week may be a long time in politics but Michael Portillo has managed to sustain a career at the heart of Westminster since being elected as MP for Enfield Southgate in 1984.
He graduated from Cambridge in 1975 with a first-class history degree and rose quickly through the ranks of the Conservative Party as a researcher before election success. Within four years Margaret Thatcher had made him a Minister. Four years later John Major brought him into the Cabinet and he was admitted to the Privy Council.
Politics proved to be a fickle mistress – he lost his seat in 1997, fought his way back to join the Shadow Cabinet and contested party leadership in 2001. He left the Commons in 2005 to work as a writer, political pundit and television presenter with the hugely popular Great British Railway Journeys.