RHS Panel – ‘Finding the Funny in Public History’

4 March 2024

‘Finding the Funny in Public History’

In conversation with Greg Jenner


Greg Jenner

in conversation with Emma Griffin
held on 2 February 2024
at the Mary Ward House, London, and online




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One of the UK’s best known public historians, Greg has brought history to new audiences through his engagement with popular culture. In ‘Finding the Funny in Public History’, Greg discussed his approach to communicating history, via different broadcast technologies, and also through comedy which is a common theme in his public history. As Greg shows with reference to his own work, the relationship between historical subject, medium and format is key for effective engagement with a chosen audience. How these elements are chosen and combined is an essential part of a series’ success or otherwise.

As well as drawing on Greg’s own work and approach, our event also considered popular media more broadly as a vehicle for public history. How can formats constrained by running times, deadlines and budgets reflect the balance and nuance required of effective historical work? What is the place of the trained historian in popular media representations of the past? And what are the possible formats by which future audiences will engage with historical subjects? On Tuesday 20 February, Greg was in conversation with Emma Griffin, President of the Royal Historical Society.

Speaker Biography

Greg Jenner is a public historian, author, and broadcaster well known for his work in podcasts, radio, TV, and publishing. He is the host and creator of the chart-topping comedy BBC podcast You’re Dead to Me, as well as the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Past Forward: A Century of Sound, the BBC’s award-nominated children’s podcast Homeschool History, and the Audible series A Somewhat Complete History of Sitting Down. From 2008-2019, Greg was responsible for the research and historical accuracy of the BBC’s multiple-BAFTA and EMMY-award-winning TV comedy sketch series Horrible Histories, and its BAFTA-nominated spinoff film Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans.

Greg’s publications include Ask A Historian: 50 Surprising Answers to Things You Always Wanted to Know (2021) and Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity, From Bronze Age To Silver Screen (2020). His bestselling illustrated children’s book You Are History: From the Alarm Clock to the Toilet, the Amazing History of the Things You Use Every Day was published in 2022, and his new children’s book series ‘Totally Chaotic History’ – cowritten with expert historians – will be published by Walker Books in 2024. In 2021 Greg was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society for his contribution to historical scholarship and understanding.