29 Nov 2007

A plot to kill a former Prime Minister and a lost South American colony that almost bankrupted Scotland – The Things We Forgot to Remember returns to Radio 4

Michael Portillo

Michael Portillo

TX: BBC Radio 4, 8pm, Monday 24 December

Presenter Michael Portillo returns with a new series of The Things We Forgot to Remember.

In this four-part, Open University series, Michael will remind listeners of a Suffragette plot to assassinate Herbert Asquith, the Prime Minister of the day in 1909; how the 1707 Act of Union was the only viable option for Scotland following its disastrous attempt at overseas colonisation; how the largest single allied loss of life in World War Two was in India; and a look at the real losers in the Battle of Trafalgar – the Spanish.

Michael says: "Being half Spanish, and having made a television documentary about Nelson, I am intrigued now to be leading an investigation into who really lost the Battle of Trafalgar. Whilst you are figuring that one out, you might also ask yourself why, while I probed whether we accurately remember the struggle of the Suffragettes, the clues led me to a firing range, and caused me to fire a hand gun for the first time in my life!"

Dr Chris Williams, the academic advisor for the series and history lecturer with The Open University said: "It's obvious that the past we remember can only ever be a heavily-edited version of the past that actually happened. There's so much to fit in.

"But the things that we do remember are often not the most significant ones. Some events are so obscure that they slip under the radar. What we are trying to do with The Things We Forgot to Remember is compare the history that most of us know, to some key events that we don't, and make the case for shifting our view.

"For instance, the tale of the Scottish attempt to set up an empire in 1700 does not reflect particularly well on many Scots or English, and after the Act of Union that its failure helped bring about, it was in both sides' interests to forget about it.

"So when the victors of the battle for women's suffrage sat down to write the first histories of the movement, they made sure that it reflected their own preoccupations, in the process writing out many aspects of the Suffragette movement, and leaving us with plenty of passive martyrdom, but less of the violence that the movement was driven to – including the plot on Asquith’s life."

This is the third series of The Things We Forgot to Remember and for the first time, the programmes will be available to Listen Again on the open2.net website.

There will also be a new series of four exclusive podcasts featuring Dr Chris Williams. Chris and his guests will discuss the factors and issues behind history and received wisdom gained from events.

They will all be available to download on open2.net from Monday 24 December.

Editor’s Notes

The Things We Forgot to Remember is a fully-funded Open University production for BBC Radio 4.

It will be broadcast at 8pm on Monday 24 December on BBC Radio 4 and every Monday until Monday 14 January.

Series Producer for the BBC is Philip Sellars and Executive Producer for The Open University is Catherine McCarthy. The Open University Academic Adviser is Dr Chris Williams.

The Open University and BBC have been in partnership for more than 30 years, providing educational programming to a mass audience. In recent times this partnership has evolved from late night programming for delivering courses to peak time programmes with a broad appeal to encourage wider participation in learning.

All broadcast information is correct at time of issue.

Related Courses and programmes from the Open University:-
- A180 Heritage, Whose Heritage?
- Y160 Making sense of the arts
- AA100 The Arts past and present
- A200 Exploring History: medieval to modern 1400-1900
- A173 Start writing family history
- DD100 An introduction to the social sciences: understanding social change
- DA204 Understanding media
- A103 An introduction to the humanities

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