Belfast Telegraph

Belfast-bound Dan Snow on a mission to make history cool

By Sarah Tulloch

He already has a slot on The One Show, a successful History Hit podcast and his own online documentary channel. Now television presenter Dan Snow is heading to Northern Ireland as part of his mission to make history cool again.

The 40-year-old, often referred to as 'The History Guy', says it is his "dream" to make history fun, stimulating and comprehensible.

"I sometimes fall short, but I hope I achieve that," he explains.

Snow is currently on tour, teaching audiences across the UK about the historical facts, legends and myths of their cities and towns.

And anyone keen to learn more about the history of Northern Ireland can do so when he brings Dan Snow: An Evening with 'The History Guy' to the Waterfront next week.

Speaking ahead of the event, he said Belfast would be a special place to visit.

"I'm yet to come to the most historic place in the United Kingdom which, of course, is Belfast, so that's going to be the highlight of the whole tour," he said.

"I love it. It'll be a treat heading back there and the crowd is always lively."

Born and raised in London, Snow spent most weekends of his childhood exploring battlefields, castles, cathedrals and stately homes across the UK with his parents, journalists Peter Snow and Ann MacMillan, with whom Snow shares his love of tales from the past.

Between presenting jobs and family holidays exploring Northern Ireland's rich history, Snow knows a thing or two about life here, which he reckons will give the Belfast show an edge.

He adds: "I'll probably review the show quite extensively for Belfast I imagine...

"The good thing is I've done so much work there that I'll be able to talk a bit more about lots of specific stuff, whether it's the digging up of the spitfire over the border in Donegal, or the First World War trenches that were found in Co Down that I investigated last year."

Snow acknowledges that there are "probably big gaps" in his knowledge of Northern Irish history, but this gives him the "exciting" opportunity to delve more into our uniquely fascinating and important history, and he urges others to do the same.

"History in Ireland is not dead and it's not boring," he stresses.

"It's something that defines where you go to school, where you live, your social networks, how you participate politically...

"The Troubles is history - history that we need to understand, especially in the rest of the United Kingdom."

In the midst of political chaos, Snow can't help but imagine what 2019 will look like to historians in the future.

He adds: "I think they'll find it odd that we were so technologically advanced but yet our politics is still quite primitive, and our way of communicating with people is primitive.

"You know, Donald Trump screams 'build that wall,' or Brexiteers shout 'take back control'... I think people will find that amazing."

Snow also believes future generations will find it "extraordinary" that we knew about global warming but "didn't actually do anything about it."

"It's easy to be right in hindsight, but it's tough to get it right today."

The presenter describes history as "the most extraordinary thing that's happened to anyone who has ever lived," and can't comprehend how some could find the subject boring.

"How can history be boring? History is the story of the worst, the best, the most tragic, funniest, most disastrous things that have ever happened to anyone in human history, to anyone on the planet.

"It's story of how we go from being cave dwellers and eating berries, scavenging, to putting a robot on Mars that's controlled by an iPad. History is extraordinary.."

With history enthusiasts running in the family, it's no wonder his kids have also caught the bug. "You've got no choice in our family," he laughs.

"The kids love it, but they've never been given a choice so they crack on."

Snow explains that while he wants his kids to understand why history is important, he'd really just like them to enjoy being outdoors and experiencing everything the world has to offer.

Snow and his wife, criminologist and philanthropist Lady Edwina Grosvenor, believe in taking a fun and practical approach to teaching their son Wolf, and daughters, Orla and Zia, about stories of the past.

"We go to beautiful places, hang out, have little adventures and tell fun stories. Visiting castles and going for a walk, spending time as a family… that's what I see as history and that's why I love it."

  • Dan Snow: An evening with 'The History Guy' will come to the Waterfront on Wednesday, January 30. Tickets available from the Ulster Hall box office

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