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Acrobatic cameramen


A sudden change of destination
John Julius Norwich Writer
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There was a terrible one, this was long ago with my dear friend, Ken Shepheard, which was sad. It was towards the end of my television career, such as it was, and I was asked to go and make a film about the antiquities in Ethiopia, which were... was a UNESCO project. So I thought, lovely, I've never been to Ethiopia, this'll be fun. I went off to the London Library, as I always did, and started mugging up about Ethiopia. A week before our departure, the BBC rang me up and said, 'I'm sorry, we've got rather bad news for you. We forgot to ask the Emperor for permission and we just have and he said 'no', so we can't do it. But everybody got, we've got camera crews there already, so we're going to do it in Iran instead.' So, I mean, you know, so then I had to go back and start doing it on Iran. I only had a week by then. And I didn't... Ken Shepheard was not available and they gave me a young man, I can't remember what his name was, Daryl something, I think, and who had never been abroad. I don't think he'd ever been as far as Boulogne, and suddenly he found himself in Persia, couldn't speak a word – I mean, in Persia French takes you more or less everywhere – couldn't speak a word.

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) was an English popular historian, travel writer and television personality. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and on the lower deck of the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then spent twelve years in H.M. Foreign Service, with posts at the Embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1964 he resigned to become a writer. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, 'The Popes: A History'. He also wrote on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Ethiopia, Emperor, Iran, London Library

Duration: 1 minute, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018