The Sam Willis Podcast

Fresh off the acclaimed 3-part documentary series for the BBC - 'The Silk Road', Sam Willis takes us behind the scenes, interviewing the people that make the TV programmes on and gives us an insight into the life of a TV historian. Dr Sam Willis is an archaeologist and broadcaster. He is one of the world's leading authorities on maritime and naval history, he also plays the guitar rather well. Follow Sam on Twitter: @DrSamWillis Producer: @DanMorelle
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The Sam Willis Podcast



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Aug 13, 2017

My personal commentary on my book the Fighting Temeraire, which tells the story of the ship in JMW Turner's most famous painting The Fighting Temeraire. We are up to chapter 9! This is entitled The Retired Temeraire and tells the story of how the Temeraire finished up her active service in the Royal Navy but went on to have a fascinating after-life, including a significant period of time as a prison-ship housing hundreds of miserable prisoners of war.

Aug 4, 2017

This chapter in my book takes us up to a fascinating period in the life of HMS Temeraire, the ship immortalised in Turner's painting The Fighting Temeraire. The aftermath of the Battle of Trafalgar of 1805 is not well known. From May 1809-August 1811 HMS Temeraire served in the Baltic as part an an enormous British naval fleet sent to police that crucial sea and to interfere with Napoleon's plans to dominate Europe....

Jun 30, 2017

This chapter brings the story of HMS Temeraire, the famous ship in JMW Turner's painting 'The Fighting Temeraire', up to 1805 and her heroics at the battle of Trafalgar where she won yet another layer of fame.

Jun 2, 2017

The story of the ship in Turner's famous painting The Fighting Temeraire continues to 1801 where there is one of the most violent and unpleasant mutinies in the history of the Royal Navy aboard HMS Temeraire. It begins with plotting below decks and ends with sailors hanging from the yardarm. One of the most interesting events in the period of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.

Apr 26, 2017

My commentary on my book the Fighting Temeraire, which explores the history of the ship in Turner's most famous painting, continues! We are now up to Chapter 5 'The Blockading Temeraire' which covers the crucial period of history from July 1799-October 1801 in which the Temeriare is part of the Channel Fleet sent to blockade the French fleet in their harbour in Brest.

Mar 12, 2017

The personal narrative of my history of the ship in Turner's most famous painting 'The Fighting Temeraire' continues with Chapter 4. In this chapter the book continues to 1793 with the advent of the French Revolution and the construction of an enormous new Second-Rate ship of the line - the 'new' HMS Temeraire which was the ship that went on to fight at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Feb 21, 2017

The personal narrative of my history of the ship in Turner's most famous painting 'The Fighting Temeraire' continues with Chapter 3 'The Amphibious Temeraire'. In this chapter the captured French 74 gunner is brought into service in the Royal Navy and is turned against the French in a series of amphibious assaults that characterised British warfare in this period.

Feb 15, 2017

This is chapter two of my personal commentary of my book The Fighting Temeraire - which tells the history of the ship in Turner's most famous painting. In this chapter the Temeriare is captured in one of the most savage small-scale battles of the eighteenth century. Listen to this and find out what happens in the book without having to read it OR listen to an audio book! Clever huh?

Feb 10, 2017

This podcast continues a personal narrative of my book the Fighting Temeraire, a history of the ship in Turner's most famous painting. In this episode I describe what happens in Chapter one, as the French ship La Temeraire makes a desperate attempt to escape through the Straits of Gibraltar in 1759, as well as the fun and challenges of research and writing.

Jan 22, 2017

A Personal Commentary on my book, The Fighting Temeraire, a book which tells the story of the ship in Turner's famous painting. Introduction.

Jan 6, 2017

There I was minding my own business fishing when I met a man who told me a wonderful won't believe your ears.

Nov 28, 2016

I talk to photographer Chris Chapman about a fascinating mystery that links churches on Dartmoor with 7th-century China, all along the Silk Road.

Oct 7, 2016

Jim Causley is a folk singer and musician from Devon who specializes in the traditional songs and music of the West Country. Hailing from the village of Whimple in East Devon, Causley was born in Exeter and is a relative of the Cornish poet Charles Causley.

Sep 9, 2016

Jon Morrice is the Producer and Director of Handmade on the Silk Road, a 3-part documentary and companion piece to the Silk Road series that was released earlier this year on BBC Four. Each episode follows a day in the life of a master craftsman. You can watch clips taken from the episodes right here.

Jul 29, 2016

Director Tim Niel and I chat over Skype about some of the unusual experiences we had making the recent TV series, The Silk Road for BBC Four. Hear about the 'tunnel of death', some of the weird and wonderful food we ate, scavenging for car parts from abandoned vehicles in the remotest of places, and other the improvisations we had to make whilst filming. Follow me on Twitter and let me know what you thought of the show, I'd love to hear from you!

Jun 15, 2016

Welcome to my podcast! In this inaugural episode I interview Jamie Whyte, an amazing artist who collaborated with me on the recent BBC Four Series, The Silk Road.