Sam Brown, Life and Other Stories

Hi, I’m Sam, and welcome to Life & Other Stories.

I worked as a freelancer in TV documentary production for eight years, rising from researcher to producer, before deciding to return to university to focus on my passion: History. I completed an MA in Early Modern Studies at UCL in 2019, where my dissertation on the manuscripts of the first Englishman since the Crusades to spend his life learning Arabic was awarded a distinction. I’ll be undertaking a PhD in October 2020 to continue this research.

I have very strong archival research skills, which are bolstered by my palaeographic eye for sixteenth and seventeenth century handwriting. Genealogical training means I am familiar with British record sets from the seventeenth century onwards, and can produce detailed research reports, family history narratives and drop line family tree diagrams.

My varied TV career led me to research everything from Roman Cumbria to racism in 1970s Birmingham. My notable credits include Britain’s Secret Treasures, made in collaboration with the British Museum and their Portable Antiquities Scheme; Disowned & Disabled: Breaking Free, which told the stories of disabled children growing up in Britain post-World War II; Whites Vs. Blacks: How Football Changed a Nation, which explored race relations in the 1970s West Midlands through the lens of top flight football; and Snatches, a series of drama monologues for BBC Four curated by the Royal Court Theatre’s Creative Director, Vicky Featherstone. In addition to working on productions, I have also spent time developing specialist factual singles and series, and have researched and written programme treatments for all the major UK broadcasters.

This experience in television documentaries and drama has given me a keen eye for story, character, and emotional content, as well as the ability to clearly and effectively communicate complicated historical and biographical information to directors, writers, and presenters.

I believe that wherever possible the past should be brought to life through the voices and experiences of those who lived it, which can often be found preserved in documents like letters, newspaper articles, court records, or wills. However, owing to my broadcast background, my research is not limited to paper archives, and I am also confident working with audio-visual media. My experience in this area ranges from finding rarely seen photographs of the Romanovs, to footage of allied war crimes, and interviews with the families of Peter Sutcliffe’s victims. Where projects are not delving too far into the past, I am adept at finding people who are willing to share their own memories, no matter how difficult the brief I am given. In the past I have successfully found and arranged interviews with former far right extremists; individuals who worked with Mary Quant in the 1960s; and the retired sound engineer of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, to name but a few!

‘We had a fantastic researcher, Sam Brown, who came up with a timeline of moments in women’s history, political and social, from the last 100 years. The writers responded to subjects they connected with and picked an area which became their story.’

– Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre