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