My new series about Britain in the 1980s starts at 9pm on Thursday 4 August on BBC Two.

In the days beforehand, I'll be talking about it live on Radio 4's Front Row on Monday evening, on Radio 2's Steve Wright Show on Tuesday afternoon, and on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday morning. I've also written a piece about it for the Radio Times, and the Daily Mail Weekend section will be running a long feature on Saturday 6th.

I am often asked when the next volume of my history of post-war Britain is likely to appear. The most likely answer is some time in 2018 or 2019. The book is still provisionally entitled WHO DARES WINS and my current plan is to go from the middle of 1979, when Mrs Thatcher became Prime Minister, until roughly the end of 1984. The good news is that I have pretty much finished the research. The bad news is that I now have to write it. (I say "bad news", but actually the writing should be fun.)

I have also finished filming a new BBC series about the 1980s as a whole. In effect, this is a sequel to our previous series about the 1970s, with a similar blend of political, cultural and social stories. The filming was immensely enjoyable, and I hope some of the team's enthusiasm comes through on screen. In any case, it is likely to be shown on BBC Two sometime in the summer or autumn of 2016.


An update on my new TV series about the recent history of British popular culture: it starts on Wednesday 4 November, at 9pm on BBC Two.

My book The Great British Factory is published by Allen Lane on 5 October, and I will be tormenting audiences about it at various events in the next few weeks:

Monday 5 October, at 7: Daunt Books, Marylebone

Tuesday 6 October, at 7: Wimbledon Book Festival

Friday 9 October, at 11.45: Cheltenham Literature Festival

Saturday 17 October, at 11.30: BBC History Weekend, Malmesbury

Sunday 18 October, at 12.30: Thame Arts and Literature Festival

Thursday 12 November, at 6.30: Jaffe and Neale Bookshop, Chipping Norton

The accompanying BBC Two series, Let Us Entertain You, will be on TV later this autumn.


In the last few months I’ve been working on a couple of projects that are at last going to see the light of day.

Later this year, BBC2 are showing my new four-part series Let Us Entertain You, a history of modern British popular culture.

In October, meanwhile, Penguin/Allen Lane are publishing my book The Great British Dream Factory, exploring roughly similar themes: how the British reinvented themselves as entertainers to the world, how our popular culture reinforces the status quo, how it reflects the legacy of the Victorians, and how it promotes the cult of the individual.

I’ll be giving various public talks to promote the series and the book in the next few months.

On Thursday 28 May, I’m going to be showing some preview clips and discussing the series with BBC2’s controller Kim Shillinglaw at the Hay Festival.

On 24 June I am speaking at the Chalke Valley history festival, and on 17 October I am speaking at the BBC History weekend in Malmesbury.

My new series, Tomorrow’s Worlds: The Unearthly History of Science Fiction, starts on BBC2 on Saturday 22 November at 9.45pm. The series website is here, with lots of clips, including unscreened interview clips.

We shot the films at the beginning of this year. Almost all the credit for the series belongs to the producers, John Das and Ben Southwell, who worked incredibly hard, as indeed did Chloe Penman, our researcher, and Mike Robinson and Simon Pinkerton, our crew. For John and Ben in particular, the show was a real labour of love.

Regular visitors to this website, if such people exist, will have noted that I am doing a pretty poor job of updating it. I have been working on my next book, the fifth in my series on Britain since Suez, which will cover the first half of the 1980s. I have done most of the research now, and I plan to finish before the end of 2016.

In other news, I have been filming a new series for BBC2 about the history of science fiction. This isn’t quite the same series as the much-publicised BBC America series which will go out in the United States. They were made simultaneously, using the same or similar clips and interview footage. But our episodes are 15 minutes longer and there’s a much more historical angle, as well as more specifically British stuff and more about literature.

I’ll start work on my next TV project later the summer. (It would be inconceivable to film during the World Cup, obviously.) This is another four-parter for BBC2, exploring British popular culture since the Second World War. I’m writing a book to go with it, to be published by Penguin when the series is broadcast, presumably some time in 2015.

I’m conscious that I haven’t updated this site for ages: if it were a child, it would have been taken into care a long time ago. The main reason, of course, is that I now have a real child and my days no longer stretch vacantly ahead of me.

The last time I added some news, my TV series on the 1970s was about to come out. It has now been and gone, and thank goodness, the BBC liked it. So I am now working on a new series for BBC2 which we are filming this winter: a three-part series about Britain in the Cold War. It’s not just bleakness and bunkers: we’ve got Ernest Bevin, Dynamo Moscow, the Red Dean of Canterbury, James Bond, the Beatles, The War Game, The History Man, the Moscow Olympics and the crucial role Phil Collins played in bringing down the Berlin Wall. It should be on TV some time next spring.

I’m also making an Archive on 4 documentary for Radio Four about the early days of radio and the foundation of the BBC. And finally, but perhaps most importantly, I have started work on the fifth book in my series about post-war Britain, to be published again by Allen Lane. No doubt the plan will change several times during the research and writing, but my vague intention is to go from the summer of 1979 to the end of 1984, and a provisional, unoriginal and slightly ironic title is WHO DARES WINS.

I’m conscious that I haven’t posted anything here since March, even though I do, in fact, have lots of news.

So here’s a quick update on the next book, Seasons in the Sun, which Penguin/Allen Lane are publishing in May 2012. To cut a long story short, it’s the sequel to State of Emergency, it explores the British experience from 1974 to 1979, it contains a lot of strikes, and its characters include, among others, Jim Callaghan, Denis Healey, Margaret Thatcher, Don Revie, George Lucas, Gary Kemp, the Bay City Rollers and the 1978 Scottish World Cup squad.

It’s being published in May to coincide with a four-part TV series for BBC2 on Britain in the Seventies, written and presented by me. More on that anon.

After holding out for years, I’ve finally conceded defeat. Welcome to my blog. I don’t imagine I’ll be updating it very often, but I’ll try to post details of forthcoming events and the occasional article or review, when I remember.

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