Michael Wood (historian)

Michael Wood (historian)
Michael Wood
Born 23 July 1948 (1948-07-23) (age 63)
Moston, Manchester
Occupation historian, broadcaster, documentary filmmaker
Known for Great Railway Journeys (1980)
In Search of the Trojan War (1985)
The Story of India (2007)
The Story of England (2010)

Michael David Wood (born 23 July 1948) is an English historian and broadcaster. He has presented numerous television documentary series, has made over 80 documentary films, most notably, Great Railway Journeys (1980), Art of the Western World, Legacy: A Search for the Origins of Civilization, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, Conquistadors, In Search of Myths and Heroes, and The Story of India (2007). He has written numerous books on English history including In Search of the Dark Ages, The Domesday Quest, In Search of England and In Search of Shakespeare.[1][2]

He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society[1] and in 2009 he was awarded an honorary degree by Sunderland University.[3]


Early life and education

Wood was born in Moston, Manchester. He studied at Heald Place Primary School in Moss Side, Manchester. When he was eight, his family moved to Wythenshawe, where he went to Benchill Primary School, and later Manchester Grammar School, where he developed an interest in theatre, playing Grusha in the first British amateur production of Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle.[4]

He graduated in History and English at Oriel College, Oxford, touring the USA for six weeks in his final year. Later he undertook post-graduate research in Anglo-Saxon History, also at Oriel.[1][4]


In the 1970s Wood worked for the BBC in Manchester. He was first a reporter and then an assistant producer on current affairs programmes, before returning to his love of history with his 1981 series In Search of the Dark Ages for BBC2. This explored the lives of leaders of the period, including Boadicea, King Arthur, Offa, Alfred the Great, Athelstan, Eric Bloodaxe and William the Conqueror (and gave rise to his first book, based upon the series).[5]

He quickly became popular with female viewers for his blond good looks (he was humorously dubbed "the thinking woman's crumpet" by British newspapers), his deep voice, and his habit of wearing tight jeans and a sheepskin jacket. However, his ability to present history in striking and memorable ways has always drawn a diverse audience.

Wood's work is also well known in the United States, where it receives much airplay on PBS and on various cable television networks. The series Legacy (1992) is one of his more frequently broadcast documentaries on U.S. television.

In 2006 he joined the British School of Archaeology in Iraq campaign, which aimed to train and encourage new Iraqi archaeologists, and he has lectured on the subject.[6]

Personal life

His partner for several years, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, was journalist and broadcaster Pattie Coldwell.[7][8] He currently lives in north London with his wife, television producer Rebecca Ysabel Dobbs, and two daughters, Minakshi and Jyoti.[9]

Television series

  • Great Railway Journeys ("Zambezi Express", 1980: "Slow Train to Olympia", 1983)
  • In Search of the Dark Ages (1981)
  • Great Little Railways (episode 3) (1983)
  • In Search of The Trojan War (1985)
  • Domesday: A Search for the Roots of England (1986)
  • Art of the Western World (1989)
  • Legacy: A Search for the Origins of Civilization (1992)
  • In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (1997)
  • Conquistadors (2000)
  • In Search of Shakespeare (2003)
  • In Search of Myths and Heroes (2005)
  • The Story of India (2007)
  • Christina: A Medieval Life (2008)
  • In Search of Beowulf (2009) (a.k.a. Michael Wood on Beowulf)
  • Michael Wood's Story of England (2010)


  • Darshan: An Indian Journey (1989)
  • Traveller's Tales: The Sacred Way (1991)
  • Saddam's Killing Fields (1993)
  • Hitler's Search for the Holy Grail (1999)
  • Gilbert White: Nature Man (2006)
  • Christina: A Medieval Life (2008)
  • Alexander's Greatest Battle (2009)


  • In Search of the Dark Ages (BBC Books, 1981)[10]
  • In Search of the Trojan War (1985)
  • Domesday: A Search for the Roots of England (1988)
  • Legacy: A Search for the Origins of Civilization (1992)
  • The Smile of Murugan: A South Indian Journey (1995)
  • In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (1997)
  • In Search of England: Journeys Into the English Past (1999)
  • Conquistadors (2000)
  • Shakespeare (2003)
  • In Search of Myths and Heroes (2005)
  • India: An Epic Journey Across the Subcontinent (2007)
  • The Story of England (2010)


External links

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