MICHAEL WOOD: historian and broadcaster

Photography by: James Taylor

Words by Harry Potts


Michael Wood is a historian, broadcaster and author, who has presented numerous well-known television documentary series from the late 1970s to the present day and is currently the University of Manchester’s Professor of Public History.

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Professor Michael Wood

Michael was born in Moss Side, Manchester in 1948, at the age of eight his family moved to Wythenshawe . After studying at Manchester Grammar School, Michael went on to study history and English at Oriel

Michael, 1985

College, Oxford. Three years into his research for a DPhil, he left to become a journalist with ITV. In the 1970s Michael 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 1979–81 series In Search of the Dark Ages and subsequently the highly acclaimed Domesday, and In Search of England.  He quickly became popular with female viewers for his blond good looks (he was humorously dubbed “the thinking woman’s crumpet” by British newspapers).

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‘As part of my role as Professor of Public History, I talk about the excitement and importance of history to young people who might never have thought university could be an option for them’

Michael’s work is also well known in the United States where it receives much airplay on various television networks. The series Legacy (1992) is one of his more frequently broadcast documentaries. Since 1990, Michael has been a writer and presenter with independent television production company Maya Vision International.

Michael has now made well over one hundred documentary films,
The Story of India (BBC)

He has now made well over one hundred documentary films, among them Art of the Western World, In Search of the Trojan War, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, Conquistadors and The Story of India – all of which were accompanied by bestselling books. His recent series, , the tale of one village (Kibworth in Leicestershire) through history, was praised by the Independent as ‘the most innovative TV history series ever.’

A selection of Michael Wood’s  highly praised books

In 2013, Michael joined the University of Manchester as Professor of Public History. He teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University, leads historical field trips and gives three public lectures a year.


James in action

Student reflection: James Taylor

“I photographed Michael on a typically wet Manchester day,  choosing to do the shoot in and around the University’s Old Quadrangle to give historic context to the photography. Michael was very  chatty, obliging and supportive throughout. His experience of TV presenting was obvious, Michael was very comfortable and self assured when posing for the camera. My favourite shot was of Michael stood relaxed against a University campus sign, which seemed to sum up his personality. The wet weather gave the last shot of the day a real Mancunian feel as Michael posed with his umbrella on the wet pavement against the splendour of the University building”.


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A wet Oxford Rd outside the University of Manchester’s, historic Whitworth Building
© All images – The Manchester College (unless otherwise stated)


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