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The generation game

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

From the Evening Standard:

Jon, Dan and Peter Snow

Growing up as a Snow, a Suchet or a Fox, who could resist following in the family footsteps? Five London dynasties talk to Hannah Nathanson about working with their nearest and dearest

Dan Snow, 32
I grew up thinking that everyone’s dad was on telly. As early as I can remember I used to say goodnight to my dad on television when he was doing Newsnight. Both Dad and his cousin Jon are very good at treating young people like adults. If you wanted to talk to them, you had to talk about what they were interested in, which was politics. I remember when I was five they asked me what I thought about Margaret Thatcher and the coalmining strikes, and Dad would take me to demonstrations in London and the House of Commons in session so I got the bug quite early on. Being in front of a camera in our family was quite normal. We always did piece-to-cameras for our family videos. It was what he and Mum, who works for Canadian news channel CBC, did for a living.

There are loads of fun anecdotes from working with Dad. We were sailing dinghies to show how the Spanish Armada was defeated by the English and the boom kept crashing into him. I am constantly looking after Dad because he refuses to listen to what anybody else says; when the crew are setting, he’ll be wandering through a minefield to see if there’s a better angle. You can always tell when Jon was in the house because he and Dad start yelling at each other. Jon loves huge bold statements and Dad likes interviewing him and knocking him down. Dad and I have a habit of arguing even when we agree with each other. We always know what we’re going to say next so I’ll be about to say something and he’ll say, ‘Can I just remind you…’ and I’ll say, ‘I know what you’re about to say and you don’t have to say that.’ It’s never personal: we disagree about things like how many First World War casualties there were on a battlefield.

Jon Snow, 63
I enjoy watching Peter and Dan on television now, it’s a very clever format because they are exactly as they are in real life- that’s what I’ve had to live with. Dan is a generational leader. He stands apart, not just because of his height but he’s a great historian. Peter and I might represent a work in progress but Dan is it, he’s the bee’s knees. There’s something that he’s got that neither of us have. I think it’s clarity and boundless integrity. When ITN offered me a job in the 1970s I refused initially. I didn’t want to work at the same station as Peter because it would have been hopeless; I mean the Dimblebys have tried that. But within a few months the editor sent me a note saying, ‘Just send me a paragraph saying you’ll work for us and the job is yours’ so I went there as a reporter in 1975. Peter was a formidable force in news reporting way before I went into it. We only got a television when I was 15 because Peter was reading the news on it. He had fantastic focus and was a very clear reporter. We argued like donkeys, especially about politics. He thought I was a complete extremist and I thought he was an old fuddy-duddy, but he was always right. He always had reason on his side and I always had emotion on my side.

Peter Snow, 73
Whenever I’ve had a career change I’ve asked my son Dan for his opinion first. He has a very decisive judgement and it’s always right. We first started working together when I was finishing on Tomorrow’s World. Dan was at Oxford University and got into the rowing 1st VIII; someone noticed him doing a recording about how to row a boat and came to me saying that he’d be rather good on the telly and why don’t we work together. ‘You must be joking!’ I said but they still wanted to try it, so we did a programme on the Battle of El Alamein in 2002 where Dan told the story of the man on the front line and I explained the strategy. It worked very well telling a dual story like that. People used to come up to me and say, ‘Are you Peter Snow?’ Now they come up to me and say, ‘Are you Dan Snow’s father?’ It’s quite fun. I’m immensely proud of the guy.

Jon is a superb journalist. He immediately established himself as someone with a great curiosity and a drive to find out what was really going on- rather like me, except he has the advantage of being ten years younger. When I joined ITN in 1962 I really wanted to be a trainee director and get into drama, but within a week of writing news stories I became a journalist and there was no looking back. Jon and I have both covered election nights at the same time. It’s been great fun watching the recording of Jon doing his bit afterwards. We’ve had slightly different roles: he has been the anchor, the Dimbleby figure of ITN, and I’ve explained the facts and figures. I didn’t give Jon a leg up into the industry, I simply told him who to ring. He found his way into radio and then television on his own merits. Within minutes of Jon broadcasting on LBC, my news editor said to me, ‘That Snow, is he related to you? How do I get hold of him?’ I gave him the number and Jon came to ITN.

The rest of the article is about other families and not included here.

“Bringing history to life” – Dan blogging on National Treasures Live

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Dan’s written a blog for the BBC History Magazine website on putting together National Treasures Live.

Can history compete at prime time on Britain’s biggest channel? That was the challenge I was set by the BBC’s top brass. Me and a crack team of producers and researchers were told to come up with a history series that would bring popular history to the heart of BBC One.

We were given five slots, at 7.30pm – and we would be broadcasting live to the nation’s living rooms. The team assembled and the lengthy, intense and often amusing discussions began.
Click to continue »

Tamworth Castle on TV

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

From the Tamworth blog:

The BBC’s ‘History Hunter’, Dan Snow, visited Tamworth Castle in a bid to unlock historical secrets behind the Staffordshire Hoard.

The programme which airs on Sunday July 3 (BBC One, 6pm), will see TV historian Dan Snow travel across the old Kingdom of Mercia, unravelling the secrets of the Staffordshire Hoard – one of Britain’s most significant discoveries.

Dan spent the morning at Tamworth Castle, exploring the significance of the Staffordshire Hoard and the important historic role Tamworth has in the story.

Dig WWII-related round-up

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

From express.co.uk:

This week a team of archaeologists began to recover his wrecked plane for a series to be shown on the BBC next year. But presenter Dan Snow acknowledges that the truly unique element of the story is the camp in County Kildare to which Wolfe was taken by the Irish authorities. “It was not just the British and their allies who got lost above and around Ireland,” he says. “German sailors from destroyed U-boats and Luftwaffe aircrew also found themselves interned. The juxtaposition of the two sides made for surreal drama.” The Curragh, a wide plain west of Dublin, had been used as a military muster area and training ground for centuries.

From dailyrecord.co.uk:

Neutral Historian Dan Snow said: “It’s incredible because it’s just so wet here that the ground just sucked it up and the plane burrowed into it and it’s been preserved.”

From drogheda-independent.ie:

Historian Dan Snow said: “The plane itself is obviously kind of wreckage and the big pieces survived. We’re expecting to find things like the engine and there still may be personal effects in the cockpit.

“It’s just incredible because it’s just so wet here that the ground just sucked it up and the plane was able to burrow into it and it’s been preserved.

“It’s in amazing condition,” he told RTE radio.

[…]
Mr Snow said Mr Wolf was forced to abandon his Spitfire over the Republic when its engine overheated about 13 miles from his base at RAF Eglinton, now Derry International Airport, in Northern Ireland.

Other articles:

Dan on the BBC TV Blog

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Dan wrote an entry for the BBC TV Blog on his series Filthy Cities:

When the BBC got in touch with me and suggested a series about the history of filth I was suitably nervous.

In Filthy Cities, they wanted a series which explored the idea that we humans create a huge amount of waste that, if left untreated, can destroy us.
Click to continue »

Exciting Dan News

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I know it’s been fairly quiet on all fronts on the site for the last few months – life’s caught up with me and most of my web-based projects have been sadly neglected – but the latest Dan Snow news is worth breaking radio silence, at least for this one post!

From Wales Online:

Television presenter Dan Snow has married the Duke of Westminster’s daughter, Lady Edwina Grosvenor, in a ceremony in Liverpool.

Lady Edwina, whose father is one of the country’s richest men and owns large parts of central London, met Snow two years ago.

A statement released by the couple said: “Neither of us has ever wanted a big white wedding and we are delighted that we have been free to plan a simple and relaxed wedding exactly as we wished with our families around us.”

The wedding was held at Bishop’s Lodge in Woolton, Liverpool, on Saturday and the ceremony was conducted by Bishop of Liverpool James Jones.

Snow is the son of BBC journalist Peter Snow and has made a series of history shows with his father.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Edit [02/12/10]: Some more info for those of you that are interested.
Brief interview with Dan and Edwina
Short article about the wedding

My Perfect Weekend: Dan Snow

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

From the Telegraph:

A Highland fling gets my heart racing but I love London, says Dan Snow.

Dan Snow loves cruising over southern England in his friend's Tiger Moth


If money was no object I’d happily blast off into sub orbital space on Richard Branson’s craft but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Still, I’m a great believer that you can achieve an extraordinary amount in a weekend and often find myself at Euston station on a Friday evening boarding the sleeper train to Scotland.
Click to continue »

Dan Snow on his ideal dinner party

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

From the Times:

No jackets, and no labour-intensive cooking, just lots of wine, a simple lasagne main and a bit of Outkast on the iPod

In my last flat in Earl’s Court we had a roof terrace, and we had loads of summer dinner parties. It’s mega relaxed. You won’t see anyone wearing a shirt or jacket, we just kick back.

I like entertaining, but I wouldn’t call it haute cuisine. I’ve developed strategies so that my friends and I can concentrate on having a good time, such as cold starters and making things that I can just get out of the oven.

I’m a bit chaotic, so it would normally be organised a few hours before everyone shows up. I’ve got no beef with supermarkets, so I’ll get most things there, but I do like to get my meat in a nice butcher’s. My dining room is also my study, which means it’s filled with loads of books. Getting the house ready isn’t really my strong point but I’ll get the lights nice and low.
Click to continue »

Canada: Dan Snow finds Quebec full of British history and Gallic charm

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

From the Mail online:
I arrived in Quebec on the trail of a famous British victory. Just over 250 years ago on a plain above the city, a British army in the heart of enemy territory, and wholly outnumbered, fought a battle which would change the world.

The Battle of Quebec was a triumph for British General James Wolfe, who died from musket wounds at the glorious moment of victory.
Click to continue »

Dan Snow in talk about war hero at museum

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

From the Portsmouth News:
TV personality Dan Snow will turn his hand to lecturing when he speaks at the Royal Marines Museum.
The presenter will give a talk on the famous army commander James Wolfe, who led the British to victory over France at Quebec City in Canada in the 18th century.
He was killed during the battle at the city’s Heights of Abraham, but the victory allowed Britain to take control of Quebec and force the end of French rule in North America.
Mr Snow, who last year made a documentary about the history of the Royal Navy, will speak about the amphibious character of the battle on Monday, May 10 at 7pm.
Marketing manager Sandy Wilson said: ‘These sort of talks prove very popular and I’m sure the fact that Dan Snow is speaking will boost that.’
Tickets cost £10 for adults and £6 for children, and the talk is expected to last approximately 90 minutes.

Tickets are available from the museum by calling (023) 9281 9385), or visiting marinesmuseum.co.uk.