BBorn in Lagos, Professor Olusoga, 51, produced history programs before becoming a presenter. He won a Bafta for the BBC documentary Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, and his books include the award-winning Black And British: A Forgotten History. As part of the Census 2021 educational program Let’s count! (letscount.org.uk), has recorded a lesson for children, Equality, representation and census; the census takes place on March 21. He lives in Bristol with his partner and daughter.
What is your biggest fear?
That the lessons of history have been forgotten and we are sleepwalking towards disaster.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
I admire heroic actions rather than heroic people.
Other than a property, what is the most expensive thing you have bought?
In January of last year, I became convinced that the coronavirus would inevitably reach the UK, so I bought an expensive functional trainer. A birthday present for me.
What do you dislike the most about their appearance?
My nose has been broken three times and it shows.
If you could revive something extinct, what would you choose?
The thylacine or Tasmanian tiger. It is terrible to think that they survived for thousands of years and barely survived a century of European colonization.
What is the worst of someone? he said to you?
The bar continues to rise thanks to the toxic anonymity of social media. Most black people in the public eye are the target of racist abuse online; which has gotten a lot worse in recent years.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
My guitar playing.
Who would you like to apologize for and why?
All the girls who had the misfortune to date me when I was young and horribly careless with other people’s emotions.
What words or phrases do you abuse the most?
Inconsistent. It’s a great word when it comes to deciding what to really worry about.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? done?
As an industrial cleaner in a power plant. We took 12-hour shifts in full breathing equipment, in the dark.
When did you last cry, and why?
Watching Education, one of Steve McQueen’s Small Ax movies. I was too close to my own experience at school. The teachers put me in a remedial class and refused to accept the idea that I had dyslexia and needed help. It was easier to believe that black children were stupid.
Wthe hat is the closest thing you have come to death?
If I answer that question honestly, my insurance premiums would go up.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Not having all my enthusiasm and self-confidence taken away from me by the UK television industry’s poor record of diversity. I think things are changing now.
What keeps you awake at night?
Insomnia. Long nights awake have always been a part of my adult life and are something that I have come to value.
What song would you like me to play at your funeral?
I’ve spent my life hoarding the stereo. My funeral feels like a good time to finally let someone else choose the soundtrack.
How would you like to be remembered?
I don’t think historians tend to be remembered, and I imagine I’m just as forgettable as most.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism