Tony Robinson on 3D imagery, switching football allegiances, and why you should never lie about loving Genesis

'If you move to a different town, why wouldn't you change football teams?'
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The Independent Online

The programme you're promoting apparently contains 3D footage from the First World War...

Isn't it extraordinary? What I've been told is that 3D technology precedes the photograph. If you think about all those painters in the 17th and 18th century who were obsessed by perspective, they worked out a way to paint two pictures that were subtly different, stick them together and you'd get a 3D perspective. Around the time of the First World War, they worked out an incredibly cheap way of looking at these 3D photographs which was a bit like an upside down coat hanger with a wooden handle.

On Blackadder, the other four were Oxbridge but you weren't...

I went to grammar school and left after my O-levels and went to drama school. The other guys are all 10 years younger than me and 10 times more educated.

How was that dynamic?

I was fairly stroppy about it all, I wasn't taking any prisoners. I didn't allow it that I be thought of as intellectually inferior. But they were all such pussies and sweethearts, I was probably far more aggressive than I should have been.

Your Wikipedia page calls you an 'amateur historian'. That seems unfair...

That's the curse of Wikipedia. Something goes up and unless you actually can be arsed to take it down you become it. For years it said I was a born-again Christian. God knows where that came from. But it is a bit demeaning, isn't it?

Yes, we should change it. With Time Team, sometimes it was very impressive what you dug up. Sometimes less so. Which digs stick out in your mind?

There was one time when we found absolutely fuck all. You could have gone to any field, anywhere in England and found more than we did. We were absolutely certain there was a Roman fort there and by careful, close examination we were able to show that no, there wasn't. There had been a few things found by metal detectorists, but it turned out it had been an old path for thousands of years, and people on paths tend to drop shit.

You've changed football teams twice. Some would see that as sacrilege.

Yes, I'm a serial monogamist. If you move to a different town, why wouldn't you? You go to that stadium, you bump into those players in the street, particularly if it's a smaller club. I've supported Bristol City for years now.

And you provided sleeve notes for a Genesis album, apparently.


So you're a big fan?

Well... My wife (girlfriend at the time) was a big Phil Collins fan and she said, "Will you take me to see Genesis?". I said yeah but I didn't really know anything about them. We went to Twickenham and it absolutely pissed it down and everyone was dancing around in their pac-a-macs. A few weeks later, I got a letter from their management saying, "I never realised you were a big Genesis fan; will you provide the sleeve notes for one of the repackaged albums?" I thought, 'What a brilliant thing to do' and they paid me a grand or so.


But a couple of years later I was on Simon Mayo's radio show with David Baddiel. And Simon said, "I know you're both big Genesis fans". David ended up having to help me with the answers. So, kids, readers – never lie.