24th–30th June 2024 - Broad Chalke, Salisbury

TALKS AND PANEL SESSIONS

From leading historians, broadcasters and public figures

Talks Programme


Over the festival we will host some of the finest and most distinguished historians, academics, authors and writers, in fabulous venues across the site.


Keep an eye on this page for all the latest announcements!

Al Murray – The Pub Landlord: The First Draught of History

Wednesday 26 June, 9pm. Standing up so you don’t have to take it lying down any more, the Pub Landlord will be making his Chalke History Festival debut, making sense of the questions you already had the answers to. As we all know history is written by the winners: French history books are blank from cover to cover. Strong language/nonsense from the outset. All proceeds donated to Finley’s Touch – in memory of Al’s nephew.

The Rest is History

Tuesday 25 June, 7.15pm. Historians Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland, from the incredibly popular Rest is History podcast, will be appearing at the Chalke History Festival on the evening of Tuesday 25th June.

“Ghosts”

Friday 28 June, 5.45pm. Ben Willbond & Laurence Rickard, writers and stars of the award winning BBC sitcom Ghosts, will be speaking at the festival. Ben has written for and appeared in numerous television shows and films over the years, including Horrible Histories (CBBC) and The Thick of It (BBC). Larry is a BAFTA winning writer and actor, best known for the hit BBC1 sitcom Ghosts and Horrible Histories.

Robert Peston

Monday 24 June, 5:45pm
5. BUST? SAVING THE ECONOMY, DEMOCRACY AND OUR SANITY
Fred Casella, Robert Peston

Robert Peston is political editor for ITV News, formerly Economics Editor for BBC News, and presents alongside Steph McGovern on The Rest is Money podcast. He has written four books and won more than 30 awards for his journalism. At the festival Robert will be talking as part of a panel on “Bust?: Saving the Economy, Democracy and our Sanity”.

James May

James May

Saturday 29 June, 5pm
112. THE CAR: DID WE GET IT WRONG?
James May

Broadcaster and car enthusiast, James May, will be speaking at the festival on his favourite subject – cars of course!

Max Hastings

Friday 28 June, 12.15pm
75. OPERATION BITING: THE 1942 PARACHUTE ASSAULT TO CAPTURE HITLER’S RADAR
Max Hastings

Sir Max Hastings is a journalist and historian, who has authored over thirty books, mostly about war. At the festival he will be talking about his new book on Operation Biting – which follows the dramatic events of 1942, when the British Intelligence services staged a raid to steal a German radar system.

Bettany Hughes

Sunday 30 June, 10am
118. THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD
Bettany Hughes

Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster. She has taught at some of the world’s finest institutions and made documentaries for national and international broadcasters. At the festival Bettany Hughes will be talking about her lastest book the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

We Have Ways of Making You Talk

Wednesday 26 June, 7.30pm
42. WE HAVE WAYS LIVE!
James Holland, Al Murray

Comedian Al Murray and historian James Holland will be at Chalke History Festival to present a live episode of their popular podcast series – We Have Ways of Making You Talk. They discuss all things Second World War, exploring the war in a forensic and entertaining manner.

Frank Gardner

Sunday 30 June, 4:30pm
134. INVASION
Frank Gardner

It is the present day and China is massing troops on its coast across the Strait from Taiwan. If they try and take Taiwan by force then the result would be war between the People’s Republic and the United States and its allies, including the Britain. This is the premise of BBC security correspondent and Sunday Times bestselling author Frank Gardener’s latest thriller. But how close is his plot to a potential real life invasion? Frank Gardener explains: terrifyingly close.

Alice Loxton

Friday 28 June
92. HISTRIONICS – 7.30 pm
Charlie Higson, Alice Loxton, Ben Willbond
72. THE POWER BEHIND THE PORTICO: THE FEMALE PATRONS ON GEORGIAN ARCHITECTURE – 10.30am
Alice Loxton, Amy Boyington
87. WRITING ON THE WALL: GRAFFITI, REBELLION AND THE MAKING OF 18TH-CENTURY BRITAIN – 5pm
Alice Loxton, Madeleine Pelling

Alice Loxton is an historian, author, broadcaster and social media sensation with over 2 million followers.

William Dalrymple

Saturday 29 June
101. EMPIREWORLD: HOW BRITISH IMPERIALISM HAS SHAPED THE WORLD – 11.45am
William Dalrymple, Sathnam Sanghera
105. POWER: CORPORATIONS – 1.30pm
William Dalrymple, Helen Thompson, Jens Tholstrup

William Dalrymple is a Scottish historian and writer, art historian and curator, as well as a prominent broadcaster and critic. His books have won numerous awards and prizes. He presents on the Empire podcast alongside Anita Anand.

Zeinab Badawi

Tuesday 25 June, 5.30pm
19. AN AFRICAN HISTORY OF AFRICA: FROM THEIR DAWN OF HUMANITY TO INDEPENDENCE 

Acclaimed journalist, broadcaster and President of SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), Zeinab Badawi will be talking about her new book – An African History of Africa: From the Dawn of Humanity to Independence.

Jonathan Dimbleby

Saturday 29 June, 10am
94. END GAME 1944: HOW STALIN WON THE WAR
Jonathan Dimbleby

Award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster, Jonathan Dimbleby will be talking about his new book – Endgame 1944: How the Soviet Army Won World War Two.

Michael Palin

Thursday 27 June
67. GREAT UNCLE HARRY: A TALE OF WAR AND EMPIRE
James Holland, Michael Palin – 7.30pm.
61. HISTORY’S GREATEST EXPLORER? YOU DECIDE!
Alex Bescoby, Michael Palin, Levison Wood – 5pm.

Comedy legend and adventurer, Michael Palin will be talking about his book, which recreates the extraordinary life and tragic death of a First World War soldier—his great-uncle Harry.

Shalina Patel

Sunday 30 June, 10am
120. RESPECTFULLY YOURS: DISCUSSING DIFFICULT HISTORY
Shalina Patel, Kavita Puri, Sathnam Sanghera

Shalina Patel is a historian, teacher and writer. She has given talks about the importance of diverse histories including a TEDx talk and a panel event at Cheltenham Literature Festival. Shalina writes a history column for Eastern Eye, Britain’s number one Asian newspaper and has been interviewed and featured across the media including BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and the Guardian.

Sebastian Faulks

Monday 24 June, 7.30pm
9. THE SEVENTH SON: THE HISTORY OF HUMANS
Sebastian Faulks, Adam Rutherford, Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Sebastian Faulks, Adam Rutherford, and Rebecca Wragg Sykes discuss what Neanderthals tell us about our origins and nature, about evolution and fate, and what it means to be the last surviving form of humanity. Sebastian Faulks is an internationally best-selling and award-winning novelist, best known for his First World War epic – Birdsong.

Kavita Puri

Sunday 30 June, 10am
120. RESPECTFULLY YOURS: DISCUSSING DIFFICULT HISTORY
Shalina Patel, Kavita Puri, Sathnam Sanghera

Kavita Puri is an award-winning executive producer and broadcaster for the BBC. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed book - Partition Voices: Untold British Stories.

Peter Pomerantsev

Saturday 29 June
113. HOW TO WIN AN INFORMATION WAR: THE PROPAGANDIST WHO OUTWITTED HITLER
Peter Pomerantsev – 5pm

Peter Pomerantsev is a Soviet born journalist and broadcaster. He has is the author of “Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia”, and worked as a consultant for the EU and World Bank on development projects in Russia. Peter will be talking about his latest book “How to Win an Information War: The Propagandist Who Outwitted Hitler”.

Hanna Shelest

Thursday 27 June, 12.30pm
51. THE TELEGRAPH PODCAST: UKRAINE: RHETORIC AND REALITY
Francis Dearnley, David Knowles, Hanna Shelest, Dominic Nicholls, Victoria Vdovychenko

Dr Hanna Shelest is a Director of Security Studies and Global Outreach Programmes at the Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism” and Editor-in-chief at UA: Ukraine Analytica. She is a regular presenter at international conferences and commenter for the international media.

Antony Beevor

Friday 28 June, 5.30pm
88. WAR MOVIES
Antony Beevor, Charlie Higson, James Holland

Antony Beevor is a best-selling author and well-known for writing on the Second World World. He was a regular in the 11th Hussars and his book Stalingrad was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson History Prize and the Hawthornden Prize. Among the many prestigious posts he holds, he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

The Alphen Group

A network of leading strategic thinkers from Europe and the United States, including scientists, diplomats, generals, intelligence chiefs, academics and historians, working to consider the future of the trans-Atlantic relationship and European security and defence.

Ali Ansari

38. POWER: EMPIRES
Ali Ansari, Tom Holland, Helen Thompson
Wednesday 26 June, 5.30pm
57. IRAN
Ali Ansari
Thursday 27 June, 3.30pm 
70. POLICY OF DECEIT: BRITAIN AND PALESTINE, 1914-1939
Ali Ansari, Peter Shambrook
Friday 28 June, 10.30am
89. POWER: THE PEOPLE
Ali Ansari, Lynne Jones, Erica Benner
Friday 28 June, 5.30pm
97. HISTORY IN FLAMES
Ali Ansari, Robert Bartlett
Saturday 29 June, 10am

Ali Ansari is professor of Iranian History and director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews; Senior Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institute; and president of the British Institute for Persian Studies. His latest book is a short history of Iran for Polity Press, published in 2024.

Tracy Borman

Tuesday 25 June
16. THE SECRETS OF THE ROYAL PALACES
Tracy Borman – 4pm 

18. POWER: THE LEADER
Tracy Borman, Tim Bouverie, Michael Wood – 5.30pm

Tracy Borman is a best-selling author, historian and broadcaster, specialising in the Tudor period. Tracy is also Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. She has presented a number of history television programmes and is a regular contributor to BBC History Magazine.

Saul David

Saul David

84. SKY WARRIORS: BRITISH AIRBORNE FORCES IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR
Saul David
Friday 28 June, 3.45pm 
106. BATTLEGROUND LIVE
Saul David, Patrick Bishop
Saturday 29 June, 2.45pm

Saul David is a best-selling historian and broadcaster. His recent books include Operation Thunderbolt (turned into the movie Entebbe), SBS: Silent Warriors, Devil Dogs and Sky Warriors: British Airborne Forces in the Second World War. He co-hosts the Battleground podcast with Patrick Bishop.