Hampshire Life - - Interview -

I have trav­elled the length and breadth of the coun­try a num­ber of times but I keep find­ing new things to take my breath away.

“I think that it was prob­a­bly film­ing for Coast that re­ally brought Hamp­shire to my at­ten­tion. I al­ready knew quite a bit about the county but it is only when you are here that you re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it. Look at a pho­to­graph of Hurst Cas­tle and it is fas­ci­nat­ing but when you stand there and feel the at­mos­phere of the place it to­tally cap­tures you and you can hear the voices of the men work­ing for Henry VIII de­fend­ing the na­tion against pos­si­ble in­vaders.

“By the same to­ken, go and see HMS Vic­tory and step back in time to imag­ine Ad­mi­ral Lord Ho­ra­tio Nel­son on the deck. It makes the hairs on your neck stand up. There is an in­cred­i­ble amount of mil­i­tary his­tory in this county but there is much more to Hamp­shire than just that as­pect of times past. Think about the early An­glo-Saxon and Jute set­tle­ments, it is no won­der that ar­chae­ol­o­gists love the county so much.

“If there was a map of his­tory tourism, Hamp­shire would be right up there. Even the fact that Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip spent their hon­ey­moon here at Broad­lands is a part of the rich ta­pes­try of Bri­tish his­tory to be found in this fas­ci­nat­ing county.”

Neil is look­ing for­ward to meet­ing peo­ple in the county but ad­mits that he is ner­vous about ap­pear­ing in front of a live au­di­ence.

“Peo­ple make the as­sump­tion that if you’re on tele­vi­sion, you’re used to be­ing looked at. I don’t deal with an au­di­ence in my TV work. I’m just with a cam­era­man, a sound­man and a di­rec­tor. So the prospect of pub­lic speak­ing al­ways makes me ner­vous. The tour is ex­cit­ing, but nerve-rack­ing. It’s the agony of an­tic­i­pa­tion, but I know it will ul­ti­mately be re­ally en­joy­able. I take great plea­sure in telling sto­ries, and I can’t wait to share them with peo­ple.

“I like the Q & A bit. Peo­ple al­ways ask me re­ally in­ter­est­ing ques­tions. They ask me, ‘What’s your favourite place? What pe­riod of his­tory would you go back to if you had a time ma­chine? And who would you in­vite to a din­ner party?’ But the great thing is, the ques­tions can be about lit­er­ally any­thing. I’m not a spe­cial­ist – I’m not just talk­ing about the six wives of Henry VIII. In the show, I’ll be talk­ing about any­thing that has hap­pened in the last mil­lion years – quite a big sub­ject!

“Also peo­ple tell me things I didn’t know and I love that. I’m al­ways in the po­si­tion of find­ing out that I don’t know any­thing. Ev­ery day is a school day. I’m al­ways re­al­is­ing that how­ever many in­ter­est­ing facts I’ve picked up, I don’t know the half of it. I’m al­ways think­ing, ‘I don’t know enough.’ That keeps me fas­ci­nated.

“I am sure I am go­ing to learn a lot more while I am in Hamp­shire.” Catch Neil at The Hay­mar­ket in Bas­ingstoke on Oc­to­ber 24th. Tick­ets are still avail­able at anvi­larts.

“If there was a map of his­torytourism, Hamp­shire would be rightup there” ABOVE: Neil is look­ing for­ward to shar­ing his sto­ries with au­di­ences

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