Wall to Wall

What does the future hold for history programming?

“Genres go through cycles and I feel a lack of confidence about the genre at the moment across British broadcasting,” argued the BBC’s history commissioner Tom McDonald.

The exec, who also commissions specialist factual and natural history shows for the BBC, praised the efforts of other broadcasters – “When Channel 4 do history they do it very well and differently to us; Channel 5 do some really fantastic history” – but he added that “the ecosystem only works if everyone is doing it.

“I don’t worry about finding the next generation of on-screen historians,” he continued.

The Great History Debate

How times have changed.

Now presenters travel across the globe to bring back stories, sometimes reflecting the dress and even the food of the era. And the long running classic documentaries with archive and voiceover, have largely given way to a rich explosion of formats from lavish reconstructions and living history to compelling personal journeys.

Alex Graham awarded RTS Gold Medal

Alex Graham with John Hardie (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

The award recognises Graham’s distinguished career in programme making and on behalf of programme makers in his former role as CEO of Pact.

Previous recipients of the award include Sir Trevor McDonald, David Liddiment and Coronation Street.

Presenting the award, RTS Chair and Chief Executive of ITN, John Hardie said, “It is my pleasure tonight to award the highest honour of the Society – its Gold Medal. Those who hold it are few – but distinguished.”

Tips in 60 seconds... How to make the most of being a researcher

Researcher Selina Tso has worked on productions including Long Lost Family.

Last year she was a panelist at a RTS Futures event where told audiences that it's best to own up to a mistake than to keep it a secret when working in the industry. 

Here she explains that expressing your ideas is key if you want to make the most of your job as a researcher.