'The World Never Had This Many Sexpots' Historian Sets Up TV Firm to Counter Misleading Portrayals of Great Women

The Evening Standard (London, England), October 24, 2017 | Go to article overview

'The World Never Had This Many Sexpots' Historian Sets Up TV Firm to Counter Misleading Portrayals of Great Women


Byline: Martin Bentham

ONE of Britain's leading historians has helped to set up a TV company as part of an attempt to "write women back into history" and counter the "supersexualised" portrayal of heroines of the past.

Bettany Hughes says too many important women have been portrayed as "sexpots" and their real achievements and talents have often been overlooked.

She cites examples including Queen Boudicca who was a great strategist possessing more than just "nice hair" and Roman empress Theodora, an erotic dancer who became the world's most powerful woman in the sixth century and helped to build one of the greatest churches in the world, the Hagia Sophia, in what is now Istanbul.

Hughes and three colleagues have set up a production company, Sandstone Global, to make films that will help redress the balance.

The historian, who has presented TV programmes and written books on Helen of Troy, Istanbul and philosopher Socrates, was speaking ahead of her appearance in two new series.

Eight Days That Made Rome, starting on Channel 5 on Friday, recounts eight key events in Roman history. Venus Uncovered on BBC4 next month tells the story of the goddess Venus and will be followed by similar films next year on Bacchus and Mars.

Ms Hughes said she would not be "trying to shove women back into history where they don't belong", but the programmes would give a balanced story of the world, including a fairer depiction of female characters who have been excessively sexualised in previous accounts.

"I got so sick of sitting on panels talking about the need to make films that put women centre stage, write those stories back into history, and tell stories in a different way that I suddenly thought, 'Change won't happen unless you change things'. So four of us have set up a TV and film production company. …

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