Greg Jenner FRHistS is a British public historian with a particular interest in communicating history through pop culture. He is the host and creator of the chart-topping comedy BBC podcast You’re Dead To Me (30 million downloads), as well as the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Past Forward: A Century of Sound, the BBC’s history podcast for children Homeschool History, and the Audible series A Somewhat Complete History of Sitting Down.
He was the Historical Consultant to nine series of CBBC’s Emmy & multiple BAFTA award-winning TV comedy series Horrible Histories, being solely responsible for the factual accuracy of over 2000 sketches and 140+ comedy songs. He also was a key member of the team on the BAFTA-nominated film Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans. He is also the consultant to Corpse Talk, a new YouTube Kids animated series based on Adam and Lisa Murphy’s comic book series.
Greg is also the author of the new book Ask A Historian (2021) which was written during Covid lockdown. He previously published the critically well-reviewed Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity, From Bronze Age To Silver Screen (2020), and the bestselling A Million Years In A Day: A Curious History of Ordinary Life, From Stone Age To Phone Age (2015), which is an entertaining romp through the evolution of our daily routines. In November 2022, Greg’s 4th book will be published, but this time it’s written for children. It is a funny and colourfully-illustrated title called You Are History, all about the 50 objects children might use every day.
In 2018 Greg was made an Honorary Research Associate at Royal Holloway, University of London. He also does some occasional teaching at the University of York. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
PUBLIC HISTORIAN: RADIO & PODCASTS
In Autumn 2019, Greg’s new BBC podcast series ‘You’re Dead To Me‘ launched at number 1 in the Apple Podcast Charts. It’s an educational comedy podcast featuring top comedians and top historians discussing key historical subjects and biographies from global history, aimed at an audience who didn’t love history at school. It has had 30 million downloads in its first 18 months.
In 2022, Greg presented BBC Radio 4’s Past Forward: A Century of Sound, a 20-part series of 15 minute programmes exploring randomly-chosen clips from 100 years of the BBC’s archives, and using them as a springboard to hold conversations with fascinating interviewees
His Audible podcast series A Somewhat Complete History of Sitting Down launched to critical praise in 2021
In response to the Covid 19 pandemic, Greg and his podcast team also produced Homeschool History, two series of short, funny, informative radio lectures for children. It launched on BBC Radio 4 in April 2020 and won the Silver Medal for Best Radio Podcast at the British Podcast Awards 2021.
In the summer of 2019, Greg was the resident historian on BBC Radio 4’s The Origin of Stuff, a science and history programme about the evolution and design of everyday objects.
In 2019, Greg wrote and presented Hilarious Histories: What’s So Funny About The Past? It was a 3-hour long documentary for BBC Radio 4 Extra about how comedy writers have used the past for material. It features interviews with people such as Stephen Fry and lots of lovely archive clips.
In 2018, Greg was a guest on BBC Radio’s Great Lives (talking about Gene Kelly)
In June 2015 Greg guested on BBC Radio 4’s Museum of Curiosity, appearing on the panel with the veteran comedian Ken Dodd and the mathematician Dr Hannah Fry. This episode won Best Radio Talk Show at the European Rose D’Or Awards 2016. Greg has three times been a guest on Helen Zaltzman’s language podcast The Allusionist.
PUBLIC HISTORIAN: ON TV
Greg first graduated to TV appearances as a panellist on BBC Two’s The Great History Quiz, alongside team captains Lucy Worsley and Dan Snow, and then as co-presenter on both series of Inside Versailles, the accompanying discussion show for the lavish BBC drama series Versailles about Louis XIV.
HISTORICAL CONSULTANT TO TV, FILM, & INTERACTIVE
Greg has been Historical Consultant to the BBC TV series Horrible Histories for 13 years. He was also the lead adviser on the BAFTA-nominated film Horrible Histories Movie: Rotten Romans (2019), and is currently advising on a new YouTube animated series for children. Previously, he was a key historical adviser on Channel 4’s 1066 : The Battle For Middle Earth (2008).
“FUNNY, FOR A HISTORIAN…”
Having dabbled in comedy at university, before then becoming part of the sketch and song writing team on Horrible Histories, Greg is known for taking a humorous approach to public speaking. He made his solo stage debut at the Hackney Empire for Arts Emergency charity in 2013, has three times guested on the award-winning QI podcast No Such Thing As A Fish, once on Do The Right Thing podcast, and spent 9 bizarre hours on stage as part of Mark Watson’s 27 Hour Comedy Marathon for Comic Relief. He regularly gives funny public talks, and spoke to a sold out crowd of 950 people at Hay Festival 2015. Greg has twice been a guest on Richard Herring’s comedy interview podcast RHLSTP.
TEACHING & LECTURING
Greg is both a passionate defender and careful critic of the way in which the past is exploited by our society for entertainment. He teaches a Public History MA seminar at the University of York and Royal Holloway, University of London (where he is an Honorary Research Associate), and has also lectured in other universities on the philosophical and pragmatic problems of how historical television is made and consumed. He is a historian interested in both history itself and how history is used in modern society.
As a freelance writer, he has contributed three songs and lots of sketches to Horrible Histories, and he’s also scribbled lots of articles full of fun history trivia for BBC History Magazine, History Revealed Magazine, Britain Magazine, The Radio Times, and The Huffington Post.
You can also read his blog.
TV DOCUMENTARY PRODUCTION
After studying at the University of York between 2001-5, Greg ran out of money and abandoned his plans for a PhD in Medieval Literature. Before becoming a public historian, Greg worked in the TV industry as an Assistant Producer on historical documentaries, dramas, and digital interactive projects for BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Discovery USA, History USA. More recently, he co-scripted the TIME EXPLORERS digital app for Historic Royal Palaces’ schools educational programme available at Hampton Court Palace.