Snow In Chiswick

Television presenter Dan Snow returns to old haunts


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Popular television historian Dan Snow will always have a soft spot for Chiswick – for it was the place that helped him make his name on the screen.

It was partly thanks to leafy W4 that Dan won a Sony as one of the presenters of the LBC Boat Race coverage in 2005. The race crosses the finish line on the Thames at Chiswick Bridge.

That was a year after he won a Bafta for ‘ Battlefield Britain’ a series which he co-presented with his father, Peter Snow, on BBC 1.

Returning to Chiswick this week to launch a new history app for the iPad, he spoke out over the disruption caused to this year’s race by Trenton Oldfield.

“It was just shocking, very selfish. I really really felt sorry for the rowing team. I know how hard they’ve worked and to have it disrupted like that was awful”, he said. He watched the race on his laptop while in the middle of a film shoot in Jordan.

 At Balliol College Dan captained the Oxford rowing team and competed in the race three times.

But long before that he was familiar with Chiswick. As a teenager he biked the streets of W4 to see his first girlfriend and as a student in St. Paul’s Barnes, he had plenty of friends living in the neighbourhood.


Dan Snow’s current mission is the launch of a product that combines his two great interests, history and technology. The 'TimelineWW2' – officially launched at Chiswick’s High Road House - is an App for the iPad which makes interpreting the history of the Second World War fun and informative through interactive technology.

And with typical Snow enthusiasm , he is anxious to get his message across to as many people as possible.

“Really what I want to do is pursuade people who think history is a string of dates or events from a long-ago past, that it’s exciting and interesting and relevant to their own lives.”

But if history has always been his passion (he was awarded a double First at Balliol ,Oxford) he is acutely aware that in schools throughout the UK, young people often view history as a dry subject, a collection of facts and dates to be learned by rote. While television historians are now the new ‘stars’ , the challenge lies in giving the subject mass appeal while not ‘ dumbing down’ the serious subject matter.

“History is about how we humans behave to each other, and it’s relevant to us all so we can learn the lessons for the future” he says.

 The internet has an amazing potential to tap into the mainstream, and he believes the Timeline will have as much relevance for schoolchildren as for those who actually lived during the Second World War.

 “In my day if you needed to know something you got an encyclopaedia and looked it up. You did your research in books. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I love books.

 Now we’ve got this amazing App which I think is going to bring history alive, not only for the younger generation but for anyone. I mean my father was wandering around the house this morning listening to old Pathe newsreels . Even my 91-year old aunt has an iPad.”

 The tablet App is produced by Ballista Media, a production company he set up with a friend ,and Dan is narrator, contextualizing the importance of events.

“If you watch a programme on television, then you’re captive and you have to listen to the likes of me all the way through. But with this App you can change to a different subject relating to World War Two any time you want and watch whatever you choose whenever you want. It’s fantastic” says 32-year old Snow.

 ‘Timeline WW2' for iPad, which took him over three months to create , is described as bringing to life the cataclysmic events of 70 years ago to a 21 st century audience.

It contains over 100 films from the archives of British Pathe and US broadcasters, combined with 800 still images and 2,000 written entries. The timeline can be searched and filtered to the user’s preference.

 You can listen to the original film soundtrack; give an ear to Dan’s commentary; follow battles or major events; search the animated world map and follow the decisive campaigns.

 There also numerous other features, including handpicked selections of exciting and interesting stories from the War.

 Dan Snow grew up in Barnes, surrounded by journalism and history. He is a great-great grandson of the former Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, and both parents are well-known journalists.

 Apart from his father, Peter Snow, with whom he has presented a number of programmes on BBC, there is his father’s cousin Jon Snow, the well-known Channel Four presenter, and his mother Anne, who has a long association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in London.

 With such a pedigree it was no surprise that he would enter the media, but he has worked hard to make his own name in the often precarious world of television presenting.

 He is a much sought after presenter of television documentaries, a critically praised writer and the history boffin on BBC’s ‘The One Show,’ bringing his specialist knowledge to a popular audience.

Now married to Lady Edwina Grosvenor ( daughter of the Duke of Westminster), the couple, who have a baby daughter Zia, divide their time between a base in Notting Hill and a home in the New Forest (bought from the former mercenary, Simon Mann).

The demands of television presenting are relentless. The day after he spoke to W4.Com, Dan was due to travel to Rumania to make a film about how satellites can be used to pinpoint Roman ruins for excavation. His trip to Chiswick was brief but he will be back.

 Timeline WW2 for iPad is available at a discounted launch price of £5.99 (RRP £9.99) from  and the iTunes store.


April 20, 2012