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Sunday, 3 March, 2002, 16:36 GMT
Historian Starkey signs 2m TV deal
Moral Maze presenter Michael Buerk with Janet Daley, David Starkey, Edward Pearce and David Cook
Dr Starkey (second from left) with the Moral Maze team
Historian Dr David Starkey has signed a 2m four-year deal with Channel 4 and Granada Television.

Dr Starkey will make a 25-hour series on the history of the British monarchy, to be screened on Channel 4.

The contract will see Dr Starkey, 57, earn around 75,000 per hour on screen and put him in the same earning bracket as presenters such as Desmond Lynam and Cilla Black.

The total deal between Channel 4, Granada and Dr Starkey is worth 4.5m.

Dr Starkey has presented two of the most watched history series the Channel 4 has screened - one on King Henry VIII's wives, the other on Queen Elizabeth I.


David Starkey has produced some of the channel's stand-out programmes over the last few years and we are thrilled that this fruitful relationship will continue.

Janice Hadlow, Channel 4

Dr Starkey said the contract would not change him. Instead, he plans to buy more books for his library at home.

"My accountant tells me I should feel very happy," he said. "But I will make relatively few programmes which take a huge amount of time.

"It takes me three months to prepare one hour of television.

"Although the likes of Anne Robinson and Desmond Lynam get less by the hour, it takes them 10 seconds to prepare for their show and they make far more of them."

Popularity

Under the deal with Channel 4 and Granada Bristol, the largest project will involve 18 hours of programming giving the definitive TV history of the Kings and Queens of Britain.

Starting with King Arthur, the series will work its way through history to the modern Royal family and how its popularity and status has endured.

Channel 4's Head of History, Arts and Religious programming, Janice Hadlow, said: "This deal represents a major commitment from Channel 4 to one of the most exciting onscreen talents working today.

"David Starkey has produced some of the channel's stand-out programmes over the last few years and we are thrilled that this fruitful relationship will continue."

The success of Dr Starkey's previous series is one manifestation of the current mini-boom in history programmes on television.

The programmes followed professor Simon Schama's series for the BBC, A History of Britain, which won huge popular and critical acclaim when it first went out in 2000.

BBC Four

The news of Dr Starkey's new project comes as the BBC launched BBC Four, its new digital channel devoted to culture and the arts, on Saturday.

History programmes occupy a significant chunk of the BBC Four schedule - and Dr Starkey is thought to be the sort of presenter the new channel would be keen to employ.

Dr Starkey is already a well known voice on the BBC, having for some years contributed to BBC Radio 4's ethical discussion programme The Moral Maze.

Dr Starkey said he was particularly pleased that history was commanding such high TV ratings.

"I was extremely pleased at the success of Elizabeth and Six Wives which proved beyond any doubt that now more than ever there is a tremendous appetite for history on television."

See also:

14 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Interactive art launches BBC Four
14 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Picture gallery: BBC Four
15 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
A history of Simon Schama
15 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
'Golden handcuff deal' for historian
02 Mar 02 | TV and Radio
BBC's channel Four debuts
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