C4’s Professor Alice Roberts: “I was slightly entranced by Norwich!”

York. Alice Roberts and Ben Robinson.

York. Alice Roberts and Ben Robinson. - Credit: © Mark Bickerdike/ UNP 0845 600

As Britain's Most Historic Towns gears up for a visit to Norwich, its presenter has admitted to having a soft spot for the city's heritage and the county's famous Warrior Queen and leader of the Icenis.

Professor Alice Roberts has said she was 'slightly entranced' by the Tudors in Norwich and that her favourite historical figure is Norfolk's legendary warrior and Queen of the Iceni, Boudicca.

Alice filmed one edition of her new series, Britain's Most Historic Towns, in Norwich, concentrating on the city's rich Tudor history.

'The concept is beautifully simple - one town: one period in history. Each programme is based on one town or city and a particular era. It's great because it allowed me to focus in on small, detailed, fascinating local details, then pull out to look at the broader context - to find out how events in this particular place captured or echoed what was happening across Britain at the time,' she said.

'History can seem big, sprawling and abstract - but this is a way of reining it in, anchoring it to place in a very focused way. It makes us think about history differently too - it makes it more personal, in the same way that you can do by following a particular individual or a house through time. But what was really important to me is that I wasn't just looking to illustrate documentary history. I wanted to find the hard, material evidence for the period and the physical mark it left on the town. So this series is about archaeology as much as it's about history.'

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Alice said that her favourite era from history pre-dated written history.

'Personally, my favourite era goes back even earlier - before written history starts. I love prehistory - particularly the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. These were times when our ancestors made a revolutionary change from being hunter-gatherers to being farmers, and when great migrations of people spread languages - and genes - across Europe. That's all a bit too early for this series though, but I do admit being slightly entranced by the Tudors in Norwich!'

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And she added that although it was difficult to pick a favourite historical figure, the East Anglian queen stood out.

'I became fascinated by Boudicca when I filmed The Celts for BBC2 several years ago. As a child I loved Rosemary Sutcliff's Song for a Dark Queen, and writing the book of The Celts allowed me to delve into her story - to try to understand this woman whose biography was written by her enemies,' she said.

* Britain's Most Historic Towns continues on Channel 4 on Sundays.

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