The Open University supports a range of different sorts of programmes. Reviewing these, we suddenly thought there was a space for a different kind of programme: that is, a lecture that would provide the kind of experience that one would get in a University. This would be given by an academic, rather than a celebrity, and delivered from a podium, rather than made into a programme. The audience would be a mixed group of academics, students and other interested parties. In fact, you would be lucky to get such a lecture in a University; we aspired to produce what we hope will become an annual intellectual event – a significant contribution to whatever it is that is being discussed.
As this year was the sixtieth anniversary of the fall of Berlin, and as Britain has one of the leading authorities on the life of Hitler, we invited Professor Sir Ian Kershaw to start us off. As you will know if you saw (or have listened to or read) the lecture, Professor Kershaw articulates a new view of Hitler that treads a path between excessive individualisation, and putting it all down to the social context. We hope that the model that has been set, which is in the best tradition of programmes that both entertain and instruct, will be carried over to future years.