JUDGING by the enthusiasm of this near-capacity crowd, our eternal fascination with various forms of violent death would ironically appear to display all the signs of immortality.

This was an illustrated talk by historian and television presenter Dr Lucy Worsley, who brought her usual charm and wit to bear on a subject not normally noted for light-hearted content or detail.

It’s hard to imagine skipping down Ripper Avenue or Murder Mile with a song on your lips, but this she managed to do with distinction.

And along the way, she also made it clear that our predecessors most certainly understood that there was plenty of money to be made out of the ultimate misfortune.

In other words, where’s there’s blood there’s brass, to strangle the well-known saying.

Dr Worsley will be familiar to all those who want their history served up on paper plates and cups rather on the fine bone china one imagines would be preferred by the David Starkeys of this world.

And she made no apologies for her populist style, a sort of tabloid, pithy, short-paragraphed approach in contrast to what might be termed as a heavier broadsheet take on the past.

Speaking of which, our narrator explained how the British learnt to love and regard the sudden extinction of life as entertainment, courtesy of the broadside and ballad sheets, precursors of the modern newspaper.

Yes, there might be plenty of people to elevate noses heaven-ward in disgust, but they were – then as now - easily outnumbered by fellow citizens with more savage instincts.

From the unsolved mass killing of the Marr family in 1811 through to the Red Barn murder and on to the cosy, violence-deficient and bloodless crime scenes of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, the audience were taken on a tumbrel ride along streets paved with blood and gore.

Part power-point presentation, part stand-up, this was a riveting night courtesy of a woman you’d wish had been your history teacher back in those days of ink pellets and staring our of the window instead of concentrating on lessons.

Of course, like our ancestors who once flocked to executions, we all wanted some voyeuristic delights to get the sadistic juices flowing. And this magical moment came when Dr Worsley displayed the peeled scalp of the Red Barn killer William Corder, as wrinkled as a toad’s skin and still sporting a blackened ear.

Oh yes, lovely stuff, and it just went to show that we’re still the same 17th century crowd that howled with delight at the sight of one of our fellow creatures being hanged, drawn and quartered.

Indeed, this was an absolute killer of a Saturday night out. And there’s no doubt that this particular baying mob – just like their ancestors - will soon be bawling for the next blood-letting.

John Phillpott