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Society & Culture
History

Histories of the Unexpected

Updated about 1 month ago

Society & Culture
History
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Histories of the Unexpected explores the past in ways that you never dreamt possible. Surely there’s nothing unexpected about the past? About History? Aha, well Histories of the Unexpected adopts a new approach to exploring our past. Gone is the traditional linear plotting of battles, monarchs and political movements. Histories of the Unexpected argues that everything has a history, even the most unexpected of subjects. Like SLIME. Or COURAGE. or APPLAUSE.... Presented by Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell.

Read more

Histories of the Unexpected explores the past in ways that you never dreamt possible. Surely there’s nothing unexpected about the past? About History? Aha, well Histories of the Unexpected adopts a new approach to exploring our past. Gone is the traditional linear plotting of battles, monarchs and political movements. Histories of the Unexpected argues that everything has a history, even the most unexpected of subjects. Like SLIME. Or COURAGE. or APPLAUSE.... Presented by Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell.

iTunes Ratings

88 Ratings
Average Ratings
61
14
6
4
3

Interesting and eclectic

By Bjartur108 - May 19 2020
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Fun podcast! I would love an episode on sock monkeys.

Who knew history could be this much fun?

By Stberpuppy - Mar 13 2020
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I have thoroughly enjoyed every episode. The depth of research that is obviously done makes this podcast engaging and the humor thrown in keeps it from ever becoming boring. This is one of the highlights of my week. Keep up the good work!

iTunes Ratings

88 Ratings
Average Ratings
61
14
6
4
3

Interesting and eclectic

By Bjartur108 - May 19 2020
Read more
Fun podcast! I would love an episode on sock monkeys.

Who knew history could be this much fun?

By Stberpuppy - Mar 13 2020
Read more
I have thoroughly enjoyed every episode. The depth of research that is obviously done makes this podcast engaging and the humor thrown in keeps it from ever becoming boring. This is one of the highlights of my week. Keep up the good work!
Cover image of Histories of the Unexpected

Histories of the Unexpected

Latest release on Jun 24, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail about 1 month ago

Rank #1: Christmas Ep.2

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Sam & James dig deep into the Unexpected History of Christmas. For more exclusive interviews and documentaries, signup to HistoryHit,TV, click here to subscribe.


Producer: Natt Tapley

Audio: Pete Dennis

Theme tune: Dan Morelle

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Dec 21 2017

33mins

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Rank #2: Clothing

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Sam Willis and James Daybell take on the UNEXPECTED history of CLOTHING! It's all about social control, death, recycling and mending, nationalism, Venice, knights and maidens, the Crown Jewels, ostriches, Thomas Wolsey, and the rediscovery of a long lost dress that once belonged to Queen Elizabeth I of England!

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Dec 04 2019

47mins

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Rank #3: Lunchboxes! Homeschooling WW1 and Life in the Trenches Part 1

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It's a packed lunch of fun! James and Sam explore the extraordinary history of lunchboxes, which are all about the industrial revolution and nomads and Elizabeth I, before moving on to looking at lunchboxes in relation to WW1 and life in the trenches.

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May 19 2020

31mins

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Rank #4: Vikings

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James and Sam explore the UNEXPECTED history of the Vikings. Who knew that the Vikings are all about graffiti, break-ins, criminal profiling, colour, teeth, keys, birds, nicknames, saunas, silk, mischief, staffs and goading!

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May 06 2019

37mins

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Rank #5: World War 2

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Sam and James discuss all of the unexpected aspects of WWII, which is all about rubble, carrots, blood, pockets, suicide, gates, Zen Buddhism, furniture, cancer, Mozart, King Arthur, cows, mothers, puppets, handkerchiefs, and much, much more! It's not just all about the Nazis, Churchill and the Battle of Britain...

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May 13 2019

34mins

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Rank #6: The Letter

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Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, ~Shakespeare, Hamlet’s letter to Ophelia

But never doubt the unexpected historical links as the lieutenant of lifetimes, Professor James Daybell, and the investigator of intrigue, Dr Sam Willis, take the old post road from London to Dover. With a stop-off on Dartmoor, it’s then across the sea to Jamaica as they chart the material history of the letter. From statecraft to warfare, from love to diplomacy, join James and Sam as they uncover the unexpected history of letters. Need tips on how to hit just the right note with a letter to the mother-in- law? Listen out for how the Elizabethan gentlewoman Maria Thynne wrote to hers. You may well be inspired.

History, of course, can only be written if there is evidence on which to base it, and letters provide such rich testimony of the past in so many ways. What would history be, and what tales would remain untold if such vast hoards of letters had not...  

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Nov 11 2016

34mins

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Rank #7: Rainbows!

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In this episode of Histories of the Unexpected, James and Sam explore the unexpected history of RAINBOWS (inspired by this symbol of hope during lockdown) which is all about Elizabeth I, the German Peasants' War, the Bible, Norse mythology, political alliances, Gilbert Baker, Harvey Milk and the Pride flag, and LGBTQ History and Heritage and much, much more!

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May 07 2020

41mins

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Rank #8: The Spanish Armada

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Sam and James explore the UNEXPECTED history of the Spanish Armada. It's all about collapsed expectation, flags, spies (as always), threat, fire, people not doing the right jobs, seasickness and lies.

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Oct 21 2019

32mins

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Rank #9: Soap

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In this episode James and Sam explore the Unexpected History of SOAP, which is of course all about hazing, the British Royal Navy, profanities, marketing, the Spanish Flu, popular politics, freedom of speech, Speakers' Corner, and John Major's 'Soap Box' electioneering...and a little bit about coronavirus!

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Mar 28 2020

42mins

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Rank #10: Blood and Bones

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Inspired by Halloween and Bonfire Night, Sam and James discuss the unexpected history of blood and bones: it's all about prehistoric axes, mass graves, Viking armies, Tudor surgery, bear baiting, blood sports, how much it costs to make a human being, Ottomans, Italy, and eating human bone powder. So that's cannibalism too...

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Nov 06 2019

47mins

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Rank #11: Dragons

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Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPod HistoryHit Network - TwitterFacebook Producer - Dan Morelle

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Apr 04 2017

18mins

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Rank #12: Nazis

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Sam and James discuss the unexpected history of the Nazis. They're all about, motherhood, shame, medals, public speaking, architecture and cars....who knew?

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Jul 27 2019

33mins

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Rank #13: Christmas Ep.1

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“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!... Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! ...” (Dr Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1956)

It can only be the Unexpected History of Christmas!

Let us once again join the Santa of Historical Skepticism, Professor James Daybell and the Charles Dickens of Christmas Past, Dr Sam Willis as they untangle the tinsel and unravel the lights to reveal the unexpected history of Christmas. Upon Santa’s sleigh, they will dash from medieval carousing to a Dickensian Christmas, and from racing crabs on Christmas Island in the 1950s to the Puritans and Christmas riots in Canterbury, 1647.

Like Christmas Elves they’ll assemble the links between rituals and traditions, Minst pies (not a typo) and celebrations, international date lines and land shy ravens. Listen out as James plays ‘guess the day an island was discovered,’ and Sam suggests one way to get two Christmases in one day. Oh, and whoever wrote the song about the three kings following the star, well they may need to rewrite, although it may not have quite the same rhyming style! “God bless us, everyone!” (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843)

“Good tidings we bring for you and your kin

We wish you a merry Christmas

And a happy New Year”

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPod HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

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Dec 24 2016

35mins

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Rank #14: Stench! Homeschooling Public Health in Victorian England

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This eighth episode in the special series of Histories of the Unexpected Homeschooling explores STENCH and Public Health in Victorian England. The Unexpected History of STENCH is all about personal hygiene and the marketing of smelling nice in 1950s USA; the holocaust and use of napalm during the Vietnam war, stinkiness in the medieval world, and of course nineteenth-century disease and public health. James and Sam explore discuss Public Health Reforms in Victorian Britain, including Edwin Chadwick's 1842 Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population, and look out for recipes to make your own stink bombs!

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Apr 11 2020

19mins

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Rank #15: Pockets

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Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell whisk you through the mysterious crannies in the unexpected history of pockets! For more exclusive interviews and documentaries, subscribe to HistoryHit.TV - a new kind of history channel.


Producer: Natt Tapley

Audio: Pete Dennis

Theme tune: Dan Morelle

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Apr 07 2018

28mins

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Rank #16: Graffiti

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Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPod HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

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Jan 24 2017

30mins

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Rank #17: Applause!

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In this episode of Histories of the Unexpected, James and Sam explore the unexpected history of APPLAUSE, which is all about popularity in Ancient Rome, Stalinist Russia, babies, opera-going sophisticates, crowds and paying people to clap (or boo!), Henry James's failure as a playwright, and of course gratitude to the NHS and front line medical staff across the globe during the COVID19 crisis!

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Apr 16 2020

45mins

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Rank #18: Oranges

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Find out about the unexpected history of the orange, how it's linked to the the Gunpowder Plot, and other extraordinary historical connections.

Dr Sam Willis - @DrSamWillis Professor James Daybell - @JamesDaybell Follow the show's new Twitter: @UnexpectedPdcst HistoryHit Network - Twitter Facebook Producer - Dan Morelle

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Sep 30 2016

19mins

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Rank #19: Bells

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Dr Sam Willis & Professor James Daybell explore the unexpected history of bells. For more exclusive history documentaries & interviews, subscribe to HistoryHit.TV.


Producer: Natt Tapley

Audio: Pete Dennis

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Jun 17 2018

34mins

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Rank #20: Hiding! Homeschooling Elizabeth I and Catholics

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This episode is about HIDING, but with some serious consequences! James and Sam explore the Unexpected history of HIDING, which is all about Oak Trees (and the future King of England, Charles II), it's about keeping secrets, MARY QUEEN of SCOTS, but most of all it's about how CATHOLICS were treated in Elizabethan England, via PRIEST HOLES, which were used to hide priests sent to England from Europe who were hunted down by the Tudor State. LISTEN IF YOU DARE!

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May 04 2020

27mins

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