Obituary: Professor Richard Holmes

Taylor Downing offers a tribute to the military historian who was a television natural.

I first interviewed Richard Holmes, who died of cancer on April 30th, for a television series more than 20 years ago. I was looking for a historian for the Channel 4 series Civil War who could explain not the strategies adopted by Parliament or the Crown but rather what it was like to be caught up in the giant scrum of a 17th-century battle. Richard was so brilliant, so revealing of what the experience of conflict would have been for the foot-soldier of the day, that we decided to re-shoot the entire interview, this time not in his study but on manoeuvres for the Territorial Army. In uniform (he held the rank of brigadier), out in the field with Territorials charging about behind him, he was even better. Since then I must have interviewed Richard for at least 50 more television documentaries, including many one-offs and numerous episodes of the long-running series Battle Stations.

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