The Master History; SIMON SCHAMA, TV's Highest-Paid Historian Is Back - with a Lavish New Series in Which He Tells the Shocking Stories Behind Europe's Greatest Art. MARY RIDDELL Meets Him and Finds out Why the Shy Young Academic Wooed His Wife with Crates of Laboratory Mice
Byline: MARY RIDDELL
Simon Schama may be the superstar of modern historians, but the image of the university don still clings to him. His dress shirt, greyish like skimmed milk, could have been through a thousand college boil washes. His jacket is rumpled. Perhaps he has never quite outgrown his past. Or maybe he read the description of himself as the Val Doonican of television history men and edited any hint of oiliness from his appearance.
Schama is the best-paid TV historian of all time after his last, [pounds sterling]3 million package deal with the BBC. In his view, he is worth it. 'It sounds ridiculously self-righteous, but it does make me feel, in a Jewish Calvinist way, that I've got to earn it.' His latest series, on art history, begins on BBC2 this month. In Power Of Art, he picks one masterpiece by eight great artists and weaves around each a story of an epoch. Some, such as Picasso's Guernica, will be familiar to many viewers. Others, such as Jacques-Louis David's Death Of Marat, are less well-known.
But all Schama has chosen carefully. His stories, like the History Of Britain series that first made him famous, have the power to beguile and charm. Whether Schama himself can boast such allure seems at first less certain, though he has calmed down since his early performances.
In particular, the arm-flailing that gave him the air of a non-swimmer drowning in the deep end of a pool has mutated into more subtle gestures.
'I'm like a chorus,' he …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The Master History; SIMON SCHAMA, TV's Highest-Paid Historian Is Back - with a Lavish New Series in Which He Tells the Shocking Stories Behind Europe's Greatest Art. MARY RIDDELL Meets Him and Finds out Why the Shy Young Academic Wooed His Wife with Crates of Laboratory Mice. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Daily Mail (London). Publication date: October 14, 2006. Page number: 21. © 2007 Daily Mail. COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group.