Sir Tony Robinson Talks Time Team and Trump, Ahead of Visit to Cumbria

The Beacon Museum will welcome special guest, Sir Tony Robinson, for an exclusive launch event this month.

The renowned actor and historian will attend the double launch of the Beacon Portal and the museum’s new feature exhibition Gladiators: A Cemetery of Secrets on Saturday 23 September.

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The brand new build, the Beacon Portal has been funded primarily through the Coastal Communities fund and the Copeland Community Fund. The two-story circular venue is a welcome addition to the Whitehaven harbourside and is already being put to good use with community, school and business events taking place at the site.

Meanwhile, the latest exhibition, Gladiators: A Cemetery of Secrets, a collaboration with JORVIK museums in York, brings another first to the museum. The exhibition will feature the human skeletons of six mysterious men, thought to have died in gladiatorial combat during the Roman occupation of Britain and visitors are invited to explore their intriguing stories.

Free tickets for the talks on the 23 September have sold out, however, the public are invited to attend the feature exhibition and a book signing by Sir Tony. His highly anticipated autobiography, ‘No Cunning Plan’ came out last year. Sir Tony’s long-standing involvement with Channel 4’s Time Team has meant he has witnessed some of Britain’s most significant finds in recent years and he is no stranger to the local area, having travelled to west Cumbria for his ‘Coast to Coast’ series last year.

Here, ahead of his visit to Whitehaven, the Blackadder star talks Cumbria, Roman legacies and er, Trump.

Q: What have you been busy with lately and where can we see you in the near future?

A: I have just completed filming of ‘Britain’s Ancient Tracks’ with Channel 4. This time I was exploring the ancient pathways around Dartmoor, the Deere Street Roman road and Offa’s Dyke. I have actually been doing voiceovers this week for the series down at Trident Studios, somewhere where momentous historical tracks of a different type have been made.

Q: Speaking of walking television series, what was your impression of West Cumbria when you travelled here last year to film ‘Coast to Coast’?

The things that stuck out were the abundance of walkers and yet it didn’t feel overcrowded like other areas in Cumbria. The friendliness and understanding of the local people really stuck in my memory.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement thus far?

Bringing up my two kids has to be top. Also my work on Blackadder, Time Team and Maid Marion which I created myself.

Q: What aspect of our Roman legacy do you most value in your day to day life?

The iconic Hollywood stories such as Gladiator and Spartacus were a massive influence on both my generation and those after me. I’m jealous I wasn’t around shortly after such scenes as the opening sequence of Gladiator, as I could have filled my boots with Roman and Celtic artefacts. Other obvious things such as the roads and the ruins are plain to see. I was in Bath yesterday and the structures are still amazing to this day.

Q: What will be your resounding memory of 2017 thus far?

Trump. I read about the Roman emperors such as Nero and Caligula, and now my understanding of that sort of character is that bit more vivid.

Q: What do you think museums in the UK are doing right and what would you like to see more of?

I don’t want to criticise museums as I believe that they are the stars of British culture. Seeing their constant evolution makes them continually more vivid experiences for the public. National Lottery investment is proving a lifeline for them also, and is allowing them to take big steps forward.

Q: If you could bring back one thing lost to history, what would it be?

Politeness.

Q: What do you consider the most memorable anecdote from your recent autobiography ‘No Cunning Plan’?

Readers have picked up on so many different parts, but the ones that stand out for me are having a punch up with an actor backstage at an Alan Bennet play, getting pushed into a London dock by none other than John Wayne  and getting totally snubbed by a 14-year-old Liza Minnelli.

Q: Who has been your biggest influence?

My dad.

Q: And was it him that triggered your interest in Archaeology?

The way he always used to talk about the past and his early life triggered my interest in history. I got the realization from an early age that my time on this planet isn’t the only period in human history that warrants our attention. Archaeology brought the whole thing to life for me, so I jumped at the chance to get involved in research and then Time Team.

Sir Tony Robinson will be attending The Beacon Museum in Whitehaven on Saturday 23 September 23 from 1pm – 6pm. Entrance to the talks is by ticket only, but visitors are welcome to attend the opening of the new feature exhibition from 3.45pm onwards. The museum will be open until 6pm.

For more details, visit www.thebeacon-whitehaven.co.uk or call 01946 592302.

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