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.

Let's Talk - - CONTENTS -

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:

His book, The Story of the Bri­tish Isles in 100 Places, is pub­lished by Ban­tam Press.

Visit Neil’s web­site at: www.neilo­

Photo: Bill Os­mond.

Neil Oliver gives his per­sonal take on the fas­ci­nat­ing places of Bri­tain in his new tour

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