The series titled England: Made in the Middle will air on BBC Radio 4 from 1.45pm next Monday.
Helen Castor, herself a Midlander, will argue that England has largely been shaped historically by the people and places of its Middle counties – Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, the West Midlands, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire.
Producer Robert Shore says ‘The Midlands is often overlooked when we think about the history of England yet it’s where some of our major figures have hailed from most notably William Shakespeare but also Erasmus Darwin, Samuel Johnson and of course, we now know Richard III was not only born in the Midlands but died here too.’
The series looks at the early days of the Midlands and how the ancient Kingdom of Mercia (with its capital in Tamworth) would influence the England we know today. It also examines the the region’s role in creating modern British democracy, the West Midlands’ role in leading the Industrial Revolution and the East Midlands literary prowess through writers like DH Lawrence and Alan Sillitoe.
The series also looks at accents and dialect and what makes a Nottingham or Leicester accent particularly distinctive.
MIM Creative Director Ashley Byrne says: ‘Apart from Robin Hood, many people know very little about the history of the Midlands because as a country we tend to focus on the North or South and ignore the bit in the middle. I’m very pleased that with the help of such a respected historian like Helen Castor, who grew up in Leamington Spa, we’ve been able to finally explore it through these programmes.’
England: Made in the Middle is presented by Dr Helen Castor and airs at 1.45pm every day next week (May 23-27th) on BBC Radio 4.
Bringing to life some of the readings – celebrated character actor Christopher Strauli (Only When I Laugh, Raffles, Edward VII, Rising Damp, the film) as well as Jon Thrower, Matt Nation, Alex Oliviere and Lisa Thrower.
This series follows a successful run of programmes by Made in Manchester for Radio 4 recently which included 1916: A Letter from Ireland which was made to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin.
England: Made in the Middle can be heard via the BBC iplayer for 30 days after broadcast.