Al Murray: Why Do the Brits Win Every War? was a refreshingly laddish history lesson

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Al Murray’s Why Do the Brits Win Every War? didn’t really bother answering its own central question in its episode on Vikings, not least because the Vikings invaded and then ruled large parts of England, making it difficult to see how we “beat” them in any meaningful sense.

The programme’s framing speaks to Murray’s split personality – his Pub Landlord persona, who pops up to claim “we’re undefeated World War champions of the world!” and to make “#notallvikings” anti-woke jokes; and Murray himself, the Oxford history graduate, who seems to have wanted to make a nice programme learning about Britain’s ancestral enemies.

In this episode we learned that the “Viking age” was really invented and popularised by the Victorians, who were fascinated by Scandinavian mythology. Murray, joined by former Corrie star John Thomson, had a go at making a Viking spear and found out that the Vikings were highly groomed.

The history is interesting enough that we probably didn’t need cries of “they sound like sex-crazed hippies in fancy dress!” or Brexit-tinged jokes about immigration –“the occupational hazard of living in the best country in the world is that everyone wants to come here!” – to keep us engaged.

Then again, it was refreshing seeing a laddish take on an academic topic – I’m sure Murray reeled in some of his fanbase who might not give a toss about the Vikings otherwise.

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