Why is there no history on History TV?

I know, I’m a bit old-fashioned.  I like history, I visit historical places, I read about history and write about it too and when I switch on the History TV channel, I kind of expect history too.  I used to find it too until a few years ago.

When the History Channel started, it was one of the best channels on television.  Imagine, a television channel that didn’t dumb down that much and just showed history shows and documentaries.  There are so many people who like history that it seemed only natural to have a channel dedicated to it.

History Channel

The History Channel from good to bad to ugly

True, it seemed to show various things on Romans and ancient Egypt rather than say the very interesting but totally unpublicised 18th century Egypt and more than the odd world war documentary.  Generally though, at least on the British channel you could find something interesting to watch whenever you switched over.

A few years later things went ever so little downhill when they started showing, presumably very cheap American black and white documentaries on WW2 which relied on a few maps, a voice over and endless repeated footage of Panzer tanks going through forests, fleeing civilians, concentration camps and Russian rockets firing mercilessly at Berlin. It wasn’t known as Hitler TV for nothing.

Okay thought I, it is history for the masses but still history and a lot better than those celebrity shows everywhere and even those stupid Alien type shows that were appearing on History itself.

I’d always thought that History doesn’t have to be about wars.  History can be about lots of things, change, lack of change, ideas, culture, food, languages, houses, clothes.  Why the obsession with war why not the history of the evolution of different and more advanced pens in Syria?  Alien history and speculation was another matter.  Despite believing in the possibility of alien life itself, there is a big difference between it being a possibility and wheeling out experts on Aliens and making our history relate to Aliens.

The History Channel had for over 10 years produced a really good and free of charge magazine that they sent to its devotees.  Lots of us were saddened when it closed but not too surprised as it was far and beyond what was expected of a cable channel anyway.

Then for some unknown reason, the History Channel or History as it now called itself did to history what MTV did to music, it stopped showing history.  Not all at once, but in the prime hours and then gradually throughout the days and weekends and until finally there was nothing historic on it at all.

Even the poor Military History Channel which had excellent documentaries got re-branded into H2.  Not to worry, the channel publicists said, it means we can continue watching our favourite shows that used to be on History.  Only after about 2 weeks that no longer happened.  Now all the History Channels and their other channels no longer show anything at all to do with their original channel remits.

Luckily we have Discovery History which is usually, sometimes okay and in Britain the BBC which can make the best documentaries when it wants to but they aren’t on all day long.

History Channel is awful

The History Channel is awful and should be history. “graphic originally from cracked.com”

So what do we have on History these days instead of history? To avoid swearing, we have nothing at all worth watching on history.  Programmes about Pawn shops or junk shops as we would call them here.  Run by people who know less about history than anyone I know and with objects only slightly older than what I had to eat at lunch time and certainly less interesting.

Axe Men, wahoo big deal.  You have beards, wear chequered shirts and cut down trees.  I cut down half a dozen trees in my garden after the storm in November and I’m not going to boast about it.  If it was a TV show about the development of axe heads from stone-age onwards then we would have a history show.

Ice-Road Truckers, who gives a whatever about them.  We have trucks on our roads every day, sometimes there is ice too.  It’s not history unless it is about the biggest crash of trucks on ice in history and even then it would be worth maybe 5 minutes of one history show about the development of logging in the 20th Century and its impact on climate change.  As for danger, they should try the M25 in torrential rain or snow in the dark in conditions with zero visibility and full of 10,000’s of drivers with limited talent who only want to get to work without dying.

As for Alligators or anything to do with Alligators.  This is the History Channel.  Who cares less about Alligators or swamp people.  We have neither swamps or alligators in the U.K.  Just marshes and eels which would lead in to some great history programmes about Ely or Hereward The Wake.

I don’t want to know about American Pickers, I don’t know what they pick, only that I was always told I should use tissue paper or a handkerchief if my nose was blocked.   There are lots of history shows I would love to see about America.  The Founding Fathers, bios on the first and then prominent Presidents.  Histories of how certain cities came to be or various social histories and movements but not American Pickers.

Life After People, isn’t that entirely the opposite of History?  Even before this, some of their over-hyped docudrama contained historic analysis by non-experts.  Crazy, mind you even the BBC now has plenty of history shows by presenters rather than historians.  They clearly know very little of the subject as they have to speak to specialists when talking about anything more complicated than their favourite colour.

Mud Men just sounds stupid and Storage Wars and Shipping Wars.  I’ve worked in shipping before and it was as boring a job as you can have.  You print out a shipping note, put the goods in a bag, box or envelope and then either post it or ring up a courier and a big van will come and a really bored looking driver will take your stuff to its destination.  Not exciting at all and not history.

History shows

What I want on History vs what I get.

I used to watch History Channel a lot, now I can’t remember watching a documentary there for several years.  Even the adverts for their upcoming shows put me off.  It has gone from being the best channel to one of the very worst.

The history channel should be shut down, it has nothing to do with history whatsoever.  It’s TV shows are dumb and do nothing at all to help people learn which is surely a prerequisite for a history channel.  Obviously somewhere around 2 or 3 years ago the channel must have got taken over or fallen under new management who were only interested in cheap reality shows that appeal to brain-dead type folks.

Spot the history show.  Oh that's right, there aren't any!

Spot the history show. Oh that’s right, there aren’t any!

History Channel is now owned by A&E which stands for arts and entertainments.  Where are the arts?  In Britain, A&E has another meaning, it’s what you see in and around hospitals, Accidents & Emergencies and this TV channel should have been sent to A&E years ago.

I don’t mind you transmitting this worthless pile of poo but just change your channel name. Cr@p TV might be a good one.

Sorry History Channel but in my house, you’re history!

Today is also my 2nd year blogging anniversary.  Thank-you to every one has joined me on my blogging road, I’m truly grateful that you find any of what I write to be worthy of your time and interest.  It’s been really nice to have made some great friends along the way too.

Don’t forget to check out my new book ‘The Promise, the first book in the Timeless Trilogy that will be released this summer.  You can read more about it here or be even more daring and visit my Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk stores and maybe make a purchase!

The Promise Front Cover

The Promise, book one of the Timeless Trilogy



About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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16 Responses to Why is there no history on History TV?

  1. Ankur Mithal says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more


    • Thanks Ankur, the old History Channel used to have occasional shows about the Mughals in India or ancient culture around the Indus and about the modern day Indian religions and traditions. Lots too on the British period and now on History, India doesn’t exist, nor does China, Egypt, Greece, Italy, France or Britain and outside of a few odd people, the USA either. Such a shame for those of us who are interested in the world.


  2. blosslyn says:

    Congratulations Stephen on your two years blog anniversary and its a shame that there really isn’t a good history channel now, there is enough of it……..just thank heavens for blogland 🙂


    • Thank-you! There are so many good history blogs on wordpress and elsewhere.I love your blog and history blogs are probably the only place I find out new things. It’s wonderful to find out the history of a distant place by some local blogger historian. Carry on history bloggers wherever you are. 🙂


      • blosslyn says:

        Thank you, yes I love finding out about new places, your trips out are really enjoyable because I always learn new things even if I have been there, as myself I always miss something…..hope you get to do a lot more 🙂


  3. Dave Miller says:

    Good post. It’s a shame since I used to enjoy watching. I suppose one of the problems is that there are only so many documentaries to air and the channel can’t afford to commission their own programmes.


    • Thank-you. Yes I think previously, Sky or BBC used to part finance the shows so we got new and unique documentaries. Obviously it is a lot profitable to just send a camera crew to some forest or junk store.

      Apparently, at least in the USA, the channel has gone from a top 20 channel to one in the top 2 or 3. I guess it is true that there are more stupid people than clever ones!


  4. blantonn says:

    Thank you for expressing so clearly what I have also been feeling — a huge disappointment with the History Channel. Total crap. Maybe write a sequel on how a tv station can trash a well established brand!


    • I’m glad , well sorry that you feel the same way too. I don’t know anyone who watches these braindead shows. Google is full of searches on how bad History TV is and even their own Facebook page has people complaining! Well done on your novel, it looks just my sort of read 🙂


  5. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    A superb critique of the corporatized media which routinely sacrifices any altruistic principle standing in opposition to their arbitrarily-conceived, profit-obsessed business models.


  6. Totally agree. I tend to rely on BBC4 for quality television, often of the type one sometimes got on History. It’s a sad end for History, really.

    Congrats on 2 years, man.


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  8. Oh, didn’t you get the memo? ‘We’ll fight them on the beaches and leave no area left un-dumbed.’


  9. So true… and so unfortunate! It’s one of many reasons that I refuse to pay for cable. The dumbing down of society continues.


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