Broadcaster Dan Snow is hoping to make people think differently about the history of their home towns as he begins his first ever theatre tour in Leeds. Chris Burn reports.
It is hardly suprising Dan Snow has become one of the country’s most eminent historians – not only is he the son of legendary broadcaster Peter Snow and the nephew of Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow, he is also the great-great grandson of Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
Attributing his love of history to his childhood when he recalls spending weekends being taken to castles, battlefields, country houses and churches, Dan is now a regular contributor on The One Show and runs his own online TV channel History Hit TV. But he is now preparing for a new adventure – heading out on the road for a 30-date theatre tour called An Evening With The History Guy that will begin at Leeds City Varieties on Saturday, June 2.
He intends to share memorable anecdotes from his career as a historian and broadcaster but perhaps the most fascinating element each night will be a ‘local’ section that will see Dan present historical facts about each place he visits on the tour.
Dan says the section of the show reflects his belief that history is all around us. “History is not all about dead kings, old libraries and dust,” he says. “It’s everything. It’s your parents’ eyes meeting across a crowded room and why we are who we are and why we are speaking English and why it’s acceptable for women and men to mingle together.
“I hope people walk out of the theatre saying that they had a really good time. I also hope they leave having thought deeply about the past of their town, their country and their world.”
He says he expects the live tour to be a considerably different experience than appearing on television.
“When you’re making television and podcasts it’s very lonely. You sit by yourself and think, ‘Is anyone watching?’ That’s why TV presenters take to Facebook Live. That gives you the number of viewers at the bottom
of the screen. It might be only five people, but at least you know someone is there!
“Doing live events at book festivals and book launches is a huge treat because you get to meet people. It’s an enormous boost to the confidence to know there are people out there following what you do! The tour is the first time I’ve done this in an organised way where we’ve been able to build a proper show.
“It’s a great chance to meet people and say thank you to those on whom my career depends. I’m really looking forward to it.
“A large chunk of the show will be about local history. It will have direct relevance to the place we’re in. That’s not difficult to write.”
Dan says people are often to keen to share their family stories with him. “They often want to tell me all about their family history or the part their family played in history, like a soldier in the First World War. A huge number of people tell me stories about their ancestors. They will say something like, ‘My father was the first black RAF pilot’. Listening to them, you realise how many firsts there are.”
He says studying history gives you the chance to see fascinating stories everywhere.
“I love history. It’s everywhere. It’s everything that ever happened to anyone who has ever lived on this planet. It also means that I’m never bored on a train journey. As you travel, you see names that echo from the past. Every place has a history – wasn’t there a siege in the Civil War there?
“The first question I’m always asked at events is, ‘What’s the best place you’ve ever been to?’ They expect me to say something like Angkor Wat. But perhaps weirdly, I just love this country – there is so much character and history here. Wherever you go in Britain, there are so many stories.”
Advance tickets are available from www.ticketline.co.uk or on 0844 888 9991.