It’s timely, with ‘Great British Bake-Off’ so huge, to profile this great nation’s most famous burner of cakes. This two-parter attempts to reposition Alfred from the anti-Paul Hollywood into an early pioneer of education, trade and urbanisation, among many other concepts we now take for granted.
Hushed enthusiasm has always been historian Michael Wood’s game, and our ever-engaging host does his best to bring to life an era about which relatively little is known. Bloodshed, though, was a given, with the Vikings a constant menace to the Anglo-Saxon natives of these Isles. Via Rome and a campaign of guerilla warfare (which featured the celebrated oven-related mishap), Alfred overcame our would-be conquerors and, intriguingly, played a very significant role in setting London on its way to global prominence.