Michael Wood

Michael Wood discusses with Ivan six things which he thinks should be better known.

Michael Wood is Professor in Public History at the University of Manchester. He is the author of several highly praised books on English history including In Search of the Dark Ages, Domesday, and In Search of England. He has made well over one hundred documentary films, among them Art of the Western World, In Search of the Trojan War, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, Conquistadors and The Story of India – all of which were accompanied by bestselling books.

  1. Du Fu
  2. Tamil Nadu landscape and culture
  3. Debate on Universal Human Rights in Valladolid
  4. Hadrian the African
  5. Sven Lindqvist
  6. Ethos

Helen Thompson

Helen Thompson discusses with Ivan six things which she thinks should be better known.

Helen Thompson is Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University. She is a columnist for the New Statesman and a regular contributor to the podcast Talking Politics.

  1. Arnold Bennett’s Clayhanger
  2. The Hoo Peninsula
  3. Battlestar Galactica  (the Ronald Moore version
  4. Dolly Parton’s My Tennessee Mountain Home
  5. St Vitale, Ravenna
  6. Gregor von Rezzori’s The snows of yesteryear

Dominic Sandbrook

Dominic Sandbrook discusses with Ivan six things which he thinks should be better known.

Dominic Sandbrook is the author of eight books of modern history, and is best known for his books on Britain since the 1950s.

The first volume, Never Had It So Good, covers the late 1950s and early 1960s. The second book, White Heat, looks at Britain in the heyday of the 1960s, and was later used as the background for a BBC drama. The third and fourth volumes, State of Emergency and Seasons in the Sun, cover the 1970s, and were adapted for television as the BBC documentary series The 70s. The fifth volume, Who Dares Wins, covers the early 1980s, including the first Thatcher administration, the Falklands War, the New Romantics, the birth of home computers and the tragic decline of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

His new book series Adventures in Time, aimed at young readers, focuses on the Six wives of Henry VIII and the Second World War.

He has a weekly podcast, The Rest is History, with his fellow historian Tom Holland.

1. The Weather Islands of Sweden

2. The Good Soldier

3. The Byzantine Empire

4. Stan Cullis

5. Bridgnorth

6. The Dark is Rising sequence

John Kampfner

John Kampfner discusses with Ivan six things which he thinks should be better known.

John Kampfner is an award-winning author, broadcaster, commentator and cultural leader. He began his journalistic career as a foreign correspondent with the Daily Telegraph, first in East Berlin where he reported on the fall of the Wall and unification of Germany, and then in Moscow at the time of the collapse of Soviet Communism. He went on to become Chief Political Correspondent at the FT and political commentator for the BBC’s Today programme and Newsnight. As Editor of the New Statesman from 2005 to 2008, he took the magazine to 30-year circulation highs. He was Society of Magazine Editors Current Affairs Editor of the Year in 2006. 

His new book, Why the Germans Do It Better, published by Atlantic, is his sixth. His previous books include the best-selling Blair’s Wars (2003), now a standard text in schools; Freedom For Sale (2009), which was short-listed for the Orwell Prize in 2010 and in 2014 The Rich, from Slaves to Superyachts, A 2000-Year History.

1. People playing cricket in Chicago

2. Cornwall’s links with Mexico

3. Insect-based cuisine

4. The impact of climate change in the Russian Arctic

5. Marine le Pen’s gay acolytes

6. German football fans drinking and smoking on the terraces

Oliver Sears

Oliver Sears discusses with Ivan six things which he thinks should be better known.

Oliver Sears is a London-born Dublin-based art dealer & gallery owner. He is son of a Holocaust survivor & founder of Holocaust Awareness Ireland. Formerly a trustee of Holocaust Education Trust Ireland, he is a frequent contributor to radio and newspapers including RTÉ and The Irish Times. He tells his family story ‘The Objects of Love’ through a collection of precious objects, documents and photographs, powerful mementoes that survived the war and describe individual lives under Nazi occupation. This was presented for the 2019 annual Kristallnacht lecture at Trinity College Dublin. In collaboration with Trinity College Dublin and Holocaust Awareness Ireland, Oliver was in conversation with both Lenny Abrahamson and Daniel Mendelsohn in two separate events in the series Why Talk About the Holocaust?

  1. Derek Mahon 
  2. The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin
  3. The piece written just before the really famous one’. Three extraordinary pieces of music: Mozart Piano Concerto 20, the first aria of the Queen of the Night in the Magic Flute and Beethoven Piano Concerto 4
  4. Krowki
  5. Giorgio Perlasca
  6. Helen Frankenthaler

Meg Rosoff

Novelist Meg Rosoff discusses with Ivan six things which she thinks should be better known.

Meg Rosoff was born in Boston, educated at Harvard and St Martin’s College of Art, and has lived in London since 1989. Her first novel, How I Live Now, sold more than a million copies worldwide and was made into a feature film starring Saoirse Ronan. She has won or been shortlisted for 24 international book prizes, including the Orange Prize, the Whitbread and the National Book Award in America, and is a member of the Royal Society of Literature and an honorary Fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge University. She was awarded the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2016. Her most recent novel is The Great Godden. Meg lives in London with her husband, the artist Paul Hamlyn.

1. Rembrandt’s House

2. Woody Allen’s The Moose

3. Lurchers

4. Galle to Kandy train, Sri Lanka

5. Blue Red and Grey by The Who

6. A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes

Rosie Wilby

Comedian Rosie Wilby discusses with Ivan six things which she thinks should be better known.

Rosie Wilby is an award-winning comedian who has appeared on BBC Radio 4 programmes including Woman’s Hourand Four Thought. Her first book Is Monogamy Dead? was longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize 2018 and followed a trilogy of solo shows investigating the psychology of love and relationships. Rosie’s new book The Breakup Monologues(Bloomsbury) is based on her podcast of the same name, which was nominated for a British Podcast Award 2020. 

You can order The Breakup Monologues book at and listen to the podcast at 

1. The Czars

2. The films of Alex Ross Perry

3. A Girl Called Eddy

4. Home Time

5. Relationship anarchy

6. Katy Carr

Rosa Rankin-Gee

Novelist Rosa Rankin-Gee discusses six things which she thinks should be better known.

Rosa Rankin-Gee is the author of two novels: The Last Kings of Sark, which won Shakespeare & Company’s Paris Literary Prize, and Dreamland, set in a near-future Margate, which has just come out with Scribner. She once tried to stop Brexit with 600 croissants.

1. Insulated Mugs

2. The first signs of anaphylaxis

3. Public Lending Right

4. The long history of Councils relocating families outside of London

5. Why rollerblading disappeared for 20 years

6. Electric blankets

Alexandra Shulman

Alexandra Shulman at the Kiev Book fair

Former Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman discusses with Ivan six things which she thinks should be better known.

Alexandra Shulman was editor in chief of British Vogue, the longest serving editor in the history of the magazine. Her new book is Clothes… and other things that matter

Alexandra with brother Jason and sister Nicola in Zytomer, their grandmother’s birthplace

1. Passion Flower capsules or tincture

2. Delayed Gratification

3. The London Library

4. Microwaveable rice

5. Kiev

6. Where Stands a Winged Sentry by Margaret Kennedy

David Runciman

David Runciman discusses with Ivan six things which he thinks should be better known. This episode was recorded the day before the local elections.

Professor David Runciman was Head of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) from 2014 to 2018. His research interests are in twentieth century political thought, particularly ideas of democracy and crisis, and the role of technology in contemporary politics. David’s new book is How Democracy Ends, published by Profile. David also writes regularly about politics for the London Review of Books. He presents the Talking Politics podcast.

1. The World As I Found It by Bruce Duffy

2. Darwin Among the Machines

3. New Yorker Fiction podcast

4. Joni Mitchell singing Coyote in the Last Waltz

5. Andy Bush’s Indie Disco

6. Democracy