Lloyd George Knew My Great-Great Grandmother
Dan Snow, who has explored historic battles on television with his father Peter, tells Peter Furtado about the rich collection of stories surrounding his family over the last century.
I don’t exactly have a military background, but ever since I left university I’ve been researching, presenting and writing about military history; so I feel I’ve had a career in history even if not a traditional academic route. I was on the verge of embarking on a PhD on Napoleonic history when the BBC offered me the opportunity to make a programme on the sixtieth anniversary of the ballet of El Alamein with my dad. It was an extraordinary opportunity, and ever since then I have been making programmes – eight for Battlefield Britain, and another eight on Great Battles of the Twentieth Century, which will be showing in the late spring this year. Nowadays I also get the chance to do live-event television, which is really remarkable – to be standing on HMS Chatham at Trafalgar, two hundred years to the minute after the battle began. In the spring I’ll be doing a similar live programme from the Falklands for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the war. These anniversary events somehow encourage people to believe the events are really relevant to the present.
I never really fancied going into the army myself. When I might have joined up, in the early 1990s, things were rather quiet and army was not really very active; but, since Tony Blair has been prime minister, the army has become more active than at any time since the Second World War, and some of my friends who did choose the army as a career have seen more action that their grandfathers ever did.