Academics of several different Faculties, Authors, Lawyers, Civil Engineers, Landowners, Undergraduates, Postgraduates, family and local historians: some of the people I have helped with research, transcription and translation during 2016. I won’t breach confidentiality; it’s up to them when and how they publish or use my work. But a couple of projects have gone into TV and Radio programmes, so I don’t feel I need to hold back about them.
Did you hear BBC Radio 4’s Open Country on 1st December? Helen Mark had visited Belvoir to experience the completion of Capability Brown’s landscape there by the Duchess of Rutland. It was a fine sunny autumn day as we yomped up the recently-planted hillside to Laury Dizengremel’s Peacock Obelisk on the brow where Lancelot Brown had in 1780 planned his dramatic entrance to the Duke’s park. There was a hitch in both our plans. Our hitch was the duck shoot that was underway near the bridge from which we were going to walk. Our diversion took us through long grass, over the dam of the new fishing lake, and around the wire fences protecting the young saplings from grazing sheep. That gave us time for several ‘takes’ which were skilfully edited by Producer Perminder Khatkar before broadcast. Brown’s hitch in 1780 was that the hillside did not (yet) belong to his client, which may in part explain why tree planting was not completed until 2015. To hear the story from the lips of the Duchess, the Forester, and the Archivist, you must ‘listen again’ on the Open Country website.
My other media exposure was somewhat briefer. Researchers for Who Do You Think You Are? have been sending me their more difficult documents for transcription and translation for a while now. They are both thorough and discreet. Far more work is done than ends up in the broadcast. As every genealogist will know, research can take you up blind alleys, and the WDYTYA team will not take short-cuts or tell unverified stories. They also keep the identity of their subjects top secret, so it’s always a nice surprise when I discover who I have helped. This series it was Eastenders’ Danny Dyer. Remember Danny reading about his ‘Delinquent’ Ancestor? That was my transcription. Better hurry if you missed this episode as it vamooses on New Year’s Eve.
The best thing about that programme was that my fellow-tutor from Dundee University, Peter O’Donoghue, York Herald, had a ‘walk-on part’ with Danny Dyer in Westminster Abbey, where he ‘spilled the beans’ about his long royal pedigree. I only wish he’d done that bit in costume!