|The Buildings that Shaped Britain|
|Lost Buildings of Britain|
|Flying Through Time|
|Britain's Lost Roman Wonder|
|The Great Fire|
|Meet the Ancestors|
|One Foot in the Past|
Since 1989 Simon Thurley has regularly appeared on television commenting on history, heritage and the history of London. He has also appeared as an expert interviewee on many documentaries including performances on Channel 4s ‘Time Team’. Since 1995 Simon has been presenting his own television programmes on history, archaeology and architecture.
Simon believes that Television is a very important medium for architectural history providing the opportunity to convey sometimes quite complex messages and ideas about our built environment clearly in a relaxed way with humour. He was instrumental in the development of Restoration on BBC2 as a vehicle for bringing to people’s attention the plight of historic Buildings at Risk.
Simon Thurley’s principal television projects to date are:
The Buildings that shaped Britain tells the history of British architecture in eight one hour programmes. Simon Thurley wrote the series and was the lead presenter. Interviewees and other contributors added expert opinions on various aspects of architectural history. It was filmed in 2006 and first screened on Channel 5 that summer. Alison Graham in the Radio Times (27:5:06) said of the series ‘Now this is how I like Television to present History’; David Chater in The Times (2:6:06) said ‘Thurley is an exemplary TV presenter – knowledgeable, articulate, passionate and entirely devoid of irritating mannerisms’; in the Evening Standard (2:6:06) Ceri Thomas said ‘Simon Thurley isn’t afraid of making bold statements. Just as well then, that he’s got not only the credentials but the enthusiastic communication skills to back them up’.
The programmes were:
Episode 1: Conquest
Episode 2: Skyscrapers of the middle ages
Episode 3: Castles and monasteries
Episode 4: The Country House
Episode 5: Birth of the Metropolis
Episode 6: The countryside revolution
Episode 7: The industrial revolution
Episode 8: The Modern Age
A two hour special documentary arguing that British architecture is distinct from its continental neighbours. The programme looked at coastal defences, parish churches, country houses, the industrial revolution, the gothic revival and twentieth century high tech to make the argument. It was screened in April 2005 on Channel 4 and was made by Oxford Film & Television.
Six one hour programmes recreating some of the most important lost buildings in British architectural history. The series comprised interviews with experts and academics, visits to parallel surviving buildings and practical reconstructions on the site of the lost structures. Lost Buildings was first Screened in Summer 2004 on Channel 4 but has been repeated on Discovery UK several times. It was made for Channel 4 by Darlow Smithson Productions Ltd.
- Episode 1: Whitehall Palace
- Episode 2: Glastonbury Abbey
- Episode 3: Drury Lane Theatre
- Episode 4: Millbank Penitentiary
- Episode 5: Fonthill Abbey
- Episode 6: Nottingham Castle
Flying through time was commissioned by Thames Television and screened on ITV 1 in the summer of 2003. It was a history of London from the air filmed by Skyworks with a gyroscopic camera. The approach was thematic rather than chronological and was shown in six half hours.
- Episode 1: Palatial Progress
- Episode 2: Green & Pleasant Land
- Episode 3: Births, Deaths & Marriages
- Episode 4: Getting About
- Episode 5: Invasion & Defence
- Episode 6: Developing London
The lost wonder was Richborough Roman Fort in Kent, the Roman castle built immediately after the Roman invasion of Britain incorporating a great marble- clad triumphal arch. The two hour documentary for BBC 2 was an archaeological and historical search for the truth about Richborough and culminated in a CGI reconstruction of the arch in the middle of the fort. It was made by Darlow Smithson Productions LTD
The Great Fire was a two hour documentary made by Oxford Film and Television for Channel 4. It told the wider story of the Great Fire of London in 1666 with expert interviews and reconstructions. Much was filmed on location charting the progress of the fire from Pudding lane in the east to the Temple in the west.
In 2000 while Director of the Museum of London Simon was responsible for the team that excavated a Roman sarcophagus in central London. Meet the Ancestors
Simon has made a number of appearances on Time Team for Channel 4 as well as contributing to the 2002 documentary Ten years of Time Team.
In 2001 at Rycote House in Oxfordshire
In 2000 at Basing House in Hampshire
In 1998 at Richmond Palace in Surrey and a second appearance in Time Team Extras
One Foot in the Past was BBC 2s history and architecture magazine programme, which ran for seven years in the 1990s. Between 1995 and 1999, when One Foot in the Past ceased to be made Simon presented six twelve minute films on subjects as diverse as the history of royal bedchambers and the arguments for and against tall buildings. The first programme in 1995 included an early CGI sequence, one of the first to be used in TV historical reconstruction.
In order, the films were:
Series 3 (1995)
- Programme 2: Tudor Sanitation
Series 4 (1996)
- Programme 1: Royal Bedchamber
- Programme 6: The Lost Palace of Whitehall
Series 5 (1997)
- Programme : Tall Buildings
Series 6 (1998)
- Programme : Marlborough House and Lancaster House
Series 7 (1999)
- Programme : The history of domes in Britain