AN INSPIRATIONAL history consultant on a popular multi award-winning children’s TV series has honed in on his boundless enthusiasm and expertise to share his own witty account of life ‘from the stone age to the phone age’.
Greg Jenner is the Historical Consultant to CBBC’s inspirational and hilarious Horrible Histories and its various spin-offs, including Horrible History with Stephen Fry.
He has been working in the television industry on documentaries, dramas and comedy for the past 10 years and was commissioned to write a book, which has just been launched.
Although he has no intention of quitting his TV work, the 32-year-old’s book, A Million Years in a Day, is a fascinating, entertaining romp through the history of our daily lives aimed at grown-ups.
Greg told the News & Mail: “A lot of adults wouldn’t dream of picking up a history book or feel intimidated by them, but I think they’re missing out. So this is an amusing, light-hearted look at the subject, which everyone can relate to.”
With it, Greg, who has lived in Woking for eight years, brings his inimitable style and humour, taking an ordinary day as his template to reveal the astonishing origins and evolution of the routine practices we take for granted.
Spanning a million years, his smorgasbord of historical delights reveals how we got from huddling around an open fire wearing animal skins to becoming the smartphone-wielding metropolitans we are today.
From the moment we wake up until we go to sleep, we go through numerous rituals we barely stop to think about – from brushing our teeth, getting dressed and checking our emails, to social drinking, beds, pets and setting the alarm clock.
Each of the dozen chapters focuses on a particular part of the day and explores it from the very beginning. The stories span anenormous breadth of history, from Ice Age to Revolutionary France; from Classical Greece to Prohibition America.
On Wednesday last week Greg was in London at Waterstones in Piccadilly at a sold-out gig talking about his book with comedian and Horrible History fan Al Murray. Al, who played a cameo role in one series, said of Greg’s book: “His magpie mind takes you through the history of who we are and what we do, answering tons of questions you never thought to ask.”
Among the many compliments, comedian and radio presenter Robin Ince said: ‘Like visiting the most wonderful and cluttered museum, each chapter is like another room teetering with illuminating ideas and information’.
Novelist and historian Tom Holland, said: “A wonderful idea, gloriously put into practice. Greg is as witty as he is knowledgeable.”
Greg studied at the University of York, where he met his Woking partner, Kate. He said: “I love what I do. I love history and the TV industry. It is a great way to apply what I know. I just want to get the message through .”
As well as contributing sketches and song lyrics to Horrible Histories, Greg has been solely responsible for the factual accuracy of nearly 1,200 comedy sketches that span the entirety of history.
The sixth Horrible History series, in which each episode is a biography of a character, was recently finished.
The first episode, featuring King John, was aired earlier this week to coincide with the anniversary of the Magna Carta. The remainder can be seen later in the year.