Ian Chapman-Curry


. It’s the summer of 1953, and, across East Germany, angry people take to the streets. This isn’t a polite protest. This is a furious, red flag ripping, police beating, office burning rampage. The crowds demand: better living conditions; the reunification of Germany; and free elections. Instead, they would get: Trabants; the Berlin Wall; and another 35 years of hardline Communist government. Could the 17 June […]

Opening the Iron Curtain – the East Germany’s day of dissent


According to Field Marshal Montgomery, rule number one on the first page of the book of war is ‘do not march on Moscow’. In April 1945, Winston Churchill ordered the British Chiefs of Staff to rip up the rule book and plan for an attack on their wartime ally, Russia. It was audacious, inconceivable and incredibly risky. So, fittingly, it was codenamed Operation Unthinkable. Just how […]

Operation Unthinkable – Churchill’s plan that would have started World War 3



. In August of 1216, the King of Scotland rode down the entire length of England to pay homage to a new English king at Dover. The Scottish monarch bent his knee to a warrior prince who was the pride and hope of his dynasty. His name was Louis and he was the eldest son of the King of France. Louis is overlooked in most lists […]

Louis of England – history’s forgotten King of England


In the summer of 1550, Princess Mary, the eldest daughter of Henry VIII, was packing her belongings and preparing to flee her home. Her Tudor brother was the figurehead for an increasingly Protestant regime. Mary clung to her mother’s Catholicism. She feared for her life and, as the pressure on her to conform grew, she turned to her powerful relatives abroad. She could be safe again, […]

Princess Mary Tudor’s flight to freedom



. In 1647, the new Puritan government tried to cancel Christmas. People in Canterbury protested in a peculiarly English way, with a destructive game of football followed by a mass brawl. The city’s Plum Pudding Riots led to a royalist revolt throughout Kent and the second round of the Civil War. With Parliamentary armies fighting in Wales and Scotland, could this have marked a revival in fortunes […]

Canterbury’s cancelled Christmas and the Plum Pudding Riots


. In 1822, Gregor MacGregor committed what The Economist newspaper has called the ‘biggest fraud in history’ and ‘the greatest confidence trick of all time’. Investors, many of them Scottish, put forward vast sums towards creating a colony in central America. They were told it was a sure bet, a land of milk and honey – another paradise on the isthmus. Sounds familiar? If you listened […]

The Prince of Poyais – settling in the country that never was



. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, Scotland sank a huge chunk of its national wealth into an audacious scheme to colonise central America. By building its own colonial empire, a still independent Scotland planned to become a more equal partner with England under the Stuart crown. This is the first in a two part series looking at Scotland’s colonial disasters. In both cases, huge […]

A wonderful paradise on the Isthmus of Panama


25 APRIL 1945 Soviet and US troops meet at the Elbe River American forces pushing east and Russian forces advancing west meet near Torgau. The contact cuts Germany in two and brings closer the end of the Nazi state.

25 April 1945 | Soviet and US troops meet at the Elbe



. In the first half of 1940 only one question mattered in American politics. Would Franklin D. Roosevelt break with tradition and run for a third term as President of the United States? The New York Times proclaimed it as ‘the all-absorbing political riddle’. Roosevelt kept the country guessing right up until the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago in July 1940. On the second day […]

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third term and the voice from the sewer


. Everywhere you turn, you see the unmistakable face of Adolf Hitler. His voice echoes in your head, broadcast from a thousand loudspeakers. His wild, gesticulating speech is reaching its foam speckled crescendo. Nazi television is everywhere. Looming over city squares, above the concourse of the railway station, on the factory floor and in every home. It is George Orwell’s 1984 made real, and it was […]

Achtung! Achtung! Nazi Germany’s dystopian experiments with TV and radio



  MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN IS FIRST PUBLISHED 11 MARCH 1818 Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is first published in London. First published anonymously, it has never been out of print. It was adapted for the stage as early as 1822 and has become a favourite for depiction in film and television.

11 March 1818 | Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is first published


. The Allusionist Episode 52 – Sanctuary For the last two weeks, The Allusionist’s Radiotopia stablemate, 99 Percent Invisible, has been looking at Sanctuary Cities. So, this week, Helen Zaltzman takes a look at the etymology and history of seeking sanctuary. Along the way, she talks to John Jenkins from the University of York and Canon Rosalind Brown and discovers a fed up lion on Durham Cathedral’s […]

The Allusionist 52 | Sanctuary



  BELL MAKES THE FIRST TRUE ‘PHONE CALL 10 MARCH 1876   Alexander Graham Bell makes the first bi-directional transmission of clear speech. The first words spoken were “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” Mr Watson answered and history was made. The first commercial services would start a year later.

10 March 2017 | Bell makes the first true ‘phone call


ÉAMON DE VALERA BECOMES LEADER OF IRELAND 9 MARCH 1932 Éamon de Valera becomes President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State. This office would be replaced by the Taoiseach in the 1937 Constitution of Ireland. De Valera was instrumental in moving Ireland from British Dominion to a truly independent republic.

9 March 1932 | Éamon de Valera becomes leader of Ireland



  Myths and Legends Episode 62 – Thor: Hammer Time In November, the latest Marvel Comic-based film featuring the Norse god Thor will be released. In Thor: Ragnarok expect to see our hero smashing his way through a host of enemies. Far more interestingly, in this episode of the Myths & Legends podcast, you can find out why he should (but almost certainly won’t) be depicted with […]

Myths & Legends | Thor – Hammer Time


In 1941, Adolf Hitler issued orders to Nazi Germany’s railway officials. He wanted them to develop a new type of railway. It was to be bigger, far bigger, than anything that had ever been seen. Trains the height and width of a suburban house and the length of the Empire State Building would hurtle across the Greater German Reich, from Brest in the west to Bucharest in […]

Hitler’s plan for monster railways across Europe



  In 1647, the new puritan government tried to cancel Christmas.n 1647, the new puritan government tried to cancel Christmas. People in Canterbury protested in a peculiarly English way with a destructive game of football. The city’s Plum Pudding Riots led to a royalist revolt and the second round of the Civil War.   A second descent into hell On 21 May 1648, 10,000 royalists gathered […]

How an attempt to cancel Christmas and a game of football led ...


THE TREATY OF GRANADA COMPLETES  THE RECONQUISTA 25 NOVEMBER 1491 The Treaty of Granada was signed and ratified on November 25, 1491 between Boabdil, the sultan of Granada, and Ferdinand and Isabella, the King and Queen of Castile, León, Aragon and Sicily. The Capitulation of Granada effectively completed the Christian reconquest of Spain.

25 November 1491 | The Treaty of Granada is signed