I honestly have very little ambition to be a tv don. I know that a good number of academics do secretly – or not so secretly -- hanker after the celebrity heaven of their own Starkey-style series. Not me.
The effort-reward ratio never seems quite right. The hours of preparation, make-up, nose-powdering, dressing-up is out of all proportion to those few minutes when you’re visible on the screen. Unlike radio, when you turn up at the studio, say your piece, have a friendly drink, and go.
All the same, when the call came from Richard and Judy a few days ago, I didn’t say no. The story is in the trade that a feature on Richard and Judy can turn even the most unprepossessing book into a best seller. Sadly, that’s not why the call came. They were wanting to talk about Spartacus, the Roman rebel slave. I’ve recently been advising another BBC drama-doc on the Spartacan rebellion (it’s broadcast on Friday night). Richard and Judy wanted to know if this was more historically accurate than the old Stanley Kubrick-Kirk Douglas version.
It turned out rather as I feared.