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History Extra podcast

History • Society-and-culture

The latest news from the team behind BBC History Magazine - a popular History magazine. To find out more, visit

Popular episodes

Sex lives of medieval people

Dec 6 • 24:10

Were medieval attitudes to sex really that different from our own? Historian Katherine Harvey speaks to Elinor Evans about the sex lives of ordinary people in the Middle Ages – from how sexuality was governed by ideas about sin, to the “love magic” that was thought to trick people into bed....

The Great Depression: everything you wanted to know

Dec 5 • 50:36

Historian David M Kennedy answers listener questions and online search queries about the Great Depression, the economic crash that devastated the United States and other countries across the globe in the 1930s. In discussion with Rhiannon Davies, he covers topics ranging from the fate of minorities to the staggering unemployment statistics of the time.  ...

Searching for WW1’s fallen soldiers

Dec 4 • 41:02

Robert Sackville-West describes attempts to identify the bodies of the dead after the devastating battles of the First World War ...

Christmas feasts: Medieval & Tudor revelry

Dec 3 • 26:42

From brawn to plum pottage, Annie Gray takes us back to the raucous world of festive feasting in the medieval and Tudor eras. Speaking to Ellie Cawthorne, for the first episode in our new mini-series on Christmas food through history, she also touches on subversive merrymaking, spectacular dinnertime entertainments and hefty meat pies....

Pearl Harbor episode 1: A gathering storm in Japan

Dec 1 • 42:47

In the first episode in our new series on the raid on Pearl Harbor, Chris Harding speaks to Ellie Cawthorne about Japan in the years running up to December 1941. They discuss the long-running historical factors that edged the country ever closer to war with the United States, and ask: what led Japan to embark on such a risky gamble?...

Colour: a human history

Nov 30 • 47:53

Colour has been hugely important to humans through history, with different cultures attaching their own meanings to all the hues of the rainbow. From the ancient societies who venerated purple to the modern political radicals who chose red as the colour of revolution, James Fox speaks to Rhiannon Davies about these fascinating associations. ...

Stranger danger? Xenophobia’s unexpected history

Nov 29 • 38:01

Psychiatrist and historian George Makari speaks to Jon Bauckham about the origins of the term “xenophobia”, and the ways in which western thinkers have interpreted people’s fear of strangers, from the 19th century to the present day....

The Irish famine: everything you wanted to know

Nov 28 • 50:43

Christine Kinealy answers listener questions on the devastating famine that struck Ireland in the mid-19th century...

How Shakespeare inspired terrorists

Nov 27 • 39:06

Shakespeare has been an obsession of extremist groups across the globe over the centuries. The Nazi Party held him up as a hero, while Osama Bin Laden condemned him as the ultimate symbol of the depraved west. Islam Issa speaks to Rhiannon Davies about the playwright’s tangled relationship with terror....

How the Greeks changed the world

Nov 26 • 50:06

Historian Roderick Beaton ranges over 4,000 years of Greek history, from the glories of Mycenae to the life of a modern European nation. In discussion with Rob Attar, he picks out some of the key moments in this journey, including the triumphs of ancient Greece, the conquests of Alexander the Great and the 1820s battle for independence. ...

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