Episode from the podcastDesert Island Discs

David Olusoga, historian and broadcaster

Released Sunday, 10th January 2021
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David Olusoga is a historian, writer and broadcaster who has presented a range of programmes including the BBC’s A House Through Time and Civilisations. He is currently professor of public history at Manchester University.

Born in Lagos, the second child to a Nigerian father and a British mother, David was brought up by his mother in Gateshead after his parents’ marriage broke down. As a child he and his siblings experienced sustained racism and he remembers school as a place of violence and cruelty.

He credits his mother’s tenacity and her determination to educate her children for his later success in getting to university and establishing a career in television. His love of history developed from a young age, thanks to one of his teachers who taught him why an understanding of history matters. Watching television documentaries also opened up a world of possibility and David fondly recalls programmes from the 1980s presented by the historian Michael Wood, who made history seem cool in the eyes of the young schoolboy glued to the TV in his Gateshead council house.

Last year David delivered the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival in which he talked candidly about his loneliness at being the only black person on a production team and the difficulties he had trying to explain the racial implications of how, for example, people in Africa were often portrayed on screen.

DISC ONE: Zombie by Fela Kuti
DISC TWO: Roll on Buddy by Aunt Molly Jackson
DISC THREE: Black Mountain Blues by Bessie Smith
DISC FOUR: Just The Other Day by Dr Alimantado
DISC FIVE: Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground by Blind Willie Johnson
DISC SIX: Last Kind Words by Geeshie Wiley
DISC SEVEN: You Can't Blame The Youth (Live At The Record Plant '73) by Bob Marley & The Wailers
DISC EIGHT: Precious Lord, Take My Hand / You’ve Got a Friend by Aretha Franklin

BOOK CHOICE: The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell: An Age Like This, 1920-40
LUXURY ITEM: Acoustic guitar
CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground by Blind Willie Johnson

Presenter Lauren Laverne
Producer Paula McGinley

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