Is it true that the English are ignorant about British history?

Last week The Guardian wrote the article: Devolution and the separation of the English mind in which Martin Kettle, journalist, said “the history that I devoured at school and university was British history in name only. In reality it was English not British. Most people educated in England know little about the history of either Wales or Scotland, let alone Ireland. And this ignorance carries a price.”

The BBC carried on this trait by only screening the OU/BBC series The Story of Wales in Wales.  The series was “phenomenally successful” and prompted an “explosive” social media response.  Martin Kettle went on to bemoan the fact that the “remarkable” series has not yet been screened in England, where most people remain “just as ignorant about Welsh history as they always have been”, he claims.

The Story of Wales, presented by Huw Edwards (pictured), has been rated by Welsh audiences as their favourite BBC TV series of 2012 so far and has attracted an average 300,000 viewers per episode. 

Its success is being credited with doubling the student headcount on this spring’s presentation of the OU’s Welsh history course A182.

The series was promoted by collaborating with BBC Wales and other partners on ‘wraparound’ social media activity, says Dewi Knight, OU in Wales Policy and Public Affairs Manager.

“OU in Wales tweeted quirky facts, historical comparisons, created wordclouds, and historical links to this year’s Six Nations tournament in the build-up and during the TV series. 

“We were mentioned and re-tweeted by, amongst others, the Welsh Minister for Heritage, ITV Wales’s Political Editor, Huw Edwards, the President of NUS Wales and many others.”

The BBC has not yet confirmed when the rest of the UK will be able to enjoy The Story of Wales, but it is expected to be broadcast on BBC Two later in the year.

For more information on The Story of Wales, click here.

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The Arts Faculty of The Open University is a world leader in supported Open Learning, and one of the best institutions in the world for arts and humanities. You can follow us on Twitter @OUArtsFaculty and on Facebook.
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