Simon Schama

The event fell into two parts. The first was an illustrated talk by Schama about his recollections of the Festival and its place in history (alongside the Great Exhibition, a century before and the Millennium Dome, a half century after). The second was a brief Q&A session, including questions from the audience.

Rambling. That would be my one-word review.

Michael Smith

Rambling. That would be my one-word review. Simon Schama is great, he can bring a script to life and he can bring an original twist to almost any historical subject, but this was little more than an off-the-cuff, commentary on a slide show. Hidden in that show were some gems (I’d never seen picture of inside the Great Exhibition before) but this was a disappointing experience. Perhaps I’m wrong, I don’t go to many literary events, but I’d expected a prepared, articulate examination of the historical context of the Festival of Britain, with Schama’s unique insights; that’s not what we got. Still, it felt like a privilege to be in the same room as a man I’ve long-admired on box-sets of DVDs. I’ll watch them with an added respect for their editors and directors.

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