You may not know his name, but if you’re a fan of the BBC’s historical documentaries, you’re sure to recognise David Olusoga.
He was born in Nigeria in 1970 to a Nigerian father and British mother; he arrived in the UK at the age of five and grew up in Gateshead, where the family was subjected to racial abuse – their home was attacked by the National Front and they required police protection before relocating.
Olusoga then studied history at the University of Liverpool. After graduating he realised how few black people were working in the media, so he took a course in broadcast journalism at Leeds Trinity University and became a TV producer on a variety of programmes before heading in front of the camera.
Olusoga’s softly spoken but passionate style of presenting has made him a compelling presence on the small screen. His debut came in 2014’s The World’s War: Forgotten Soldiers of Empire, which examined the service of Indian, African and Asian troops during the First World War.
Projects such as Civilisations, Black and British: A Forgotten History, The World’s War and the Bafta-winning Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners followed, as have numerous appearances on The One Show.
However, perhaps Olusoga’s best known and most-watched series to date is A House Through Time. So far it has charted the history of three properties, the first in Liverpool, the second in Newcastle, and the third in Bristol, from the time they were built to the present day.
Along the way he has uncovered tales of prosperity and poverty, joy and heartbreak, and everything in between. No doubt he’ll find stories along similar lines as he heads to Leeds in West Yorkshire.
“Leeds is a fascinating city that I am fortunate to have close personal ties with, so I am particularly looking forward to learning more about its history,” explains Olusoga. “My parents lived in the city during the 1960s and I have family in Leeds today. I am excited at the prospect of coming back to a city that I studied in and called home during the 1990s, a city I’ve been fond of ever since.”
When the series was announced, executive producer Mary Crisp stated: “We’re excited to uncover the fascinating history of Leeds, and in particular its remarkable industrial story. The show is about regular people, living extraordinary lives because of the time they lived and the circumstances they found themselves in. If you know a house that could fit the requirements for series four, please get in touch.”
Clearly somebody came up trumps because a property in the suburb of Headingley has been chosen. It’s a typical Victorian home designed for a middle-class family, and its current owners, Jackie and Pete, know little of its history, so can’t wait to find out what Olusoga has unearthed by delving through the local archives.
Throughout the run, we’re promised juicy stories involving domestic dramas, love triangles, larceny, a scandalous poisoning case and a war bride with a mysterious past.
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