Dan Cruickshank is an art historian and BBC television presenter, with a special interest in the history of architecture.
Cruickshank holds a BA in Art, Design and Architecture and was formerly a Visiting Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Sheffield and a member of the London faculty of the University of Delaware. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Artists, a member of the Executive Committee of the Georgian Group and on the Architectural Panel of the National Trust, and is an Honorary Fellow of RIBA.
His professional publications include London – the Art of Georgian Building, The National Trust and Irish Georgian Society Guide to the Georgian Buildings of Britain and Ireland and ‘’Life in the Georgian City’’. He edited the 20th edition of Sir Banister Fletcher’s History of Architecture and Timeless Architecture: a study of key buildings in architectural history and is a contributing editor to Architects’ Journal, The Architectural Review and Perspectives on Architecture.
Cruickshank began his career with the BBC as consultant, writer and presenter on the architectural programmes One Foot in the Past and The House Detectives. He also contributed films to the Timewatch and Omnibus strands.
In 2001 he wrote and presented the series Invasion in which he examined attempts and plans to invade Britain and Ireland over the years by exploring coastal fortresses and defensive structures around the coast of the country to discover their military heritage.
Further series included Britain’s Best Buildings examining architecturally – or culturally-significant buildings in Great Britain, Under Fire visiting museums and buildings in Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel to see how recent warfare has affected the country’s historic artefacts, and What the Industrial Revolution Did for Us focusing on the scientific, technological and political changes of the 19th century.
In 2003, Cruickshank presented a documentary entitled Towering Ambitions: Dan Cruickshank at Ground Zero following the debate and discussion that led to the selection of Daniel Libeskind’s design for the World Trade Center site in New York City; while in 2005 he presented a documentary on the Mitchell and Kenyon collection — rolls of nitrate film shot in the early 20th century, depicting everyday life in Britain, which were discovered in 1994 in Blackburn.
In 2004, Cruickshank was at the centre of a controversy when historian Marc Morris pointed out that a documentary about Harlech Castle shown on BBC4 and billed as “written and presented by Dan Cruickshank” contained obvious borrowings from Morris’s earlier Channel 4 series, Castle. The BBC subsequently stated that Cruickshank was not responsible and that it was an error by researchers. Channel 4’s head of history programming, Hamish Mykura, commented that “When a programme claims to have an author’s voice, it should be that author’s voice and no one else’s”. The BBC subsequently made a “goodwill payment” to Morris in recognition of the error.
Perhaps his greatest success to date came with Around the World in 80 Treasures, charting Cruickshank’s five-month trip around the world to visit eighty man-made artefacts or buildings that he had selected, in order to chart the history of mankind’s civilisation.
In 2006, Cruickshank presented Marvels of the Modern Age, a series focusing on the development of modernism in design, from Greek and Roman architecture, to Bauhaus and the present.
Dan Cruickshank’s Adventures in Architecture, a 2008 series in which he travelled around the world visiting what he considered to be the world’s most unusual and interesting buildings.
In 2010, he embarked on a 3 part series on the history of the railways in Britain for National Geographic TV channel, including visits to Chester to examine the events surrounding the Dee bridge disaster of 1847, and Manchester for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway which opened in 1830. The series was entitled “Great Railway Adventures” and first appeared on UK television in the spring of 2010. In 2014, he appeared in The Life of Rock with Brian Pern as himself.
Join Dan for a fascinating evening on Thursday 5 October as he looks at the History of Architecture in 100 Buildings.