PRESENTER IN LOVE WITH BRITAIN
Archaeologist, historian, broadcaster and author Neil Oliver is preparing to bring The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places to East Anglia. He spoke to Rachel Banham.
Neil is in love with our country
Neil Oliver loves Britain. And, when he takes to the stage in Suffolk, he’s going to tell us why.
The presenter of BBC TV’s Coast comes to The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, on October 23, as part of his tour, The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places, which is also the title of his new book.
While filming Coast, Neil fell in love all over again with the British Isles.
“From north to south, east to west it cradles astonishing beauty. The human story here is a million years old and counting,” he says.
Neil’s show will give audiences the opportunity to share his enthusiasm and unique perspective of British history. He will explain what it all means to him and why we need to cherish it.
He says: “In each location each talk will be slightly different. If I’m in the north of Scotland it will be a different talk than I would give in the south west of England or in Wales, as you can imagine. So it’s a challenge, but it is one that a big part of me is looking forward to.”
Explaining what people can look forward to at The Apex, he says: “I have been travelling around the British Isles for 15 or 20 years now for the television work that I’ve been doing, and it had occurred to me years ago that I was being kind of taken on a guided tour of Britain that maybe nobody else had ever been on.
“I’ve visited hundreds upon hundreds of locations and it gradually occurred to me that I was seeing a personal history of the British Isles, or one that made sense to me – a huge geographical spread and a huge chronological spread – archaeological sites from tens, if not hundreds of thousands of years ago right up to the modern era.”
He adds: “I felt that so many times people would stop me in the street and say, you know, ‘You’ve been everywhere Neil, where should we visit?’
“And it was always an impossible question to answer because there were so many places that I thought people should go to for so many different reasons.
“This book, The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places, is effectively my answer to that question that I’ve been asked so many times. It’s a history of Britain, as made sense to me.
“So I hope that people who come to the tour will go away with a sense of why I’m inspired about British history the way I am - the places that matter to me, the stories about Britain and the British Isles that matter to me.”
Neil has visited Aldeburgh and Orford Ness in Suffolk and Happisburgh in Norfolk, all of which feature in his book and will be included in his talk at The Apex.
“The million-year-old footprints from Happisburgh – I’ve been there for that story, and I’ve also visited Happisburgh simply for the story of the way in which that part of the coastline is being so fiercely eroded by the sea and that’s a very evocative landscape,” he says.
“Happisburgh is unique in Europe. That’s some of the earliest evidence of a human species outside Africa. Those footprints were dated to, I think, around 900,000 years ago, so in the whole of Europe they’re almost unique. So that’s a very, very special find not just for Britain, but for the world.”
Neil Oliver is at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, on October 23. Call 01284 758000 or visit: www.theapex.co.uk
His book, The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places, is published by Bantam Press.
Visit Neil’s website at: www.neiloliver.com
Neil Oliver gives his personal take on the fascinating places of Britain in his new tour