What appears on screen as `TV history' is limited by a number of possible factors; technological, financial and cultural. This article considers some of these limitations, as little is known about the processes whereby representations of the past are mediated, shaped and transformed through television. This raises pertinent questions about the construction, distribution and marketing of narratives about national and other pasts. Using oral history techniques in the research, this article seeks insights from historians involved in history programming; from this rich seam of information it focuses on two themes: the respondents' own representation on camera as historians, and their views on the style and modes of address of TV presenter-historians. This is analysed with reference to notions of charismatic television personalities and dominant narrative structures, drawing on, among others, Hayden White. It is suggested that these modes of address and televisual forms offer the viewer particular relationships to knowledge and ways of knowing.