Category Archives: Broadcasting

Sock for the day

Sock for the day

Sock for the day

Twitter is a funny thing.  A week or so ago I found myself in the Green Room at Radio 4, in my day-job capacity as a spokesperson for Cancer Research UK.

As is my habit, if I have any downtime (in this case, waiting for BBC Radio Berkshire to get their act together…) I’m usually found with some knitting in my hands. On this occasion, it was a rather fetching dark/pale green striped sock.

Unbeknowst to me, this led to the following tweet from Radio 4’s Nick Sutton (editor of World At one, among other things): “Just popped in to the @r4today green room to find a bishop and a lady knitting a sock.”

Having established that I was the knitter, rather than being the bishop, the Radio 4-following Twitterati then demanded pictures of the sock, updates on the sock’s progress, hand-knitted socks of their own, and even the replacement of Thought For The Day with Sock For The Day.

Sadly even at my prolific speed, I can’t knit a new sock every day. However, the stripey socks are finished, along with a lovely mint-humbug-coloured pair for Ricky (which ended up being knitted twice – long story, can’t be bothered to explain but it involves blind optimism and bad maths).

Socks socks socks

More socks - not quite one per day though

At the top of the pic, you can see the embryonic form of the next pair. These are going to be Bimbling Socks – although checking against the pattern, I see I’ve already made them too wide. Damn.

Music on Mondays: Sunday Driver live on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Today’s music choice is the sound of me blowing my own trumpet (as usual) 🙂

On Friday night four sevenths (57 per cent) of Sunday Driver turned up at the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to do an interview and live session on the Sue Marchant Big Night In, hosted in Sue’s absence by the very lovely Antonia Brickell.

We waffled on about our music and our influences, and played three stripped-down versions of tracks fom our upcoming album – Carousel, Music Box and Daniel’s Grave (currently all working titles).  They’re all very strongly harp-led, which means they sound lovely and twinkly here. They’ll probably sound completely different on the album!

Listen now – we’re on from about 1hr 15min

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Me! Onna telly!

ITV Tonight

Click the pic to watch the prog

On Thursday night, ITV screened a half hour documentary entitled “Can We Beat Cancer?”, featuring me! (and a bunch of much more important scientists, doctors and cancer survivors…)

It was a really fun interview to do, if a bit gruelling – every time I gave a great answer, it would be ruined by somebody stamping across the floor in the office above or shouting into a phone in the corridor. *sigh*  Anyway, I’m glad I got a haircut the week before 🙂

It’s available to watch for the next month on ITV’s website.

Read more about the programme.

Naked scientists – explosive stuff

A volcano

Hot stuff!

Although you may find it hard to believe, I don’t actually blog about everything I do.  I’ve been a bit remiss about flagging up the Naked Scientists show, which I co-present every couple of weeks.

Last Sunday’s show was a corker, all about the science of volcanoes. I don’t know about you, but learning about these explosive wonders of the natural world was something that really turned me on to science as a kid. They’re just so cool! Or rather, really really damn hot.

Find out why scientists are drilling into a volcano near Naples (hint – it’s not to build an evil underground lair, despite my repeated insistence), and how one woman is bunging a gravity meter and heading off to ‘weigh’ Icelandic volcanoes. There’s also a fab – but very messy – kitchen science experiment involving cola and wallpaper paste.

Plus in the news, we cover off arm-wrestling sabre-tooth tigers, cancer stem cells, multicellular fossils, centenarians, and how to ‘core’ an atom with the world’s most powerful laser (sadly not located in a secret lair under a volcano).

The podcast is available to listen from the player below or download from the Naked Scientists site:

Naked Scientists 040710 (mp3)

The Naked Scientists – Blowing in the wind

Is the answer to our energy problems blowing in the wind?

I was back in the saddle on the Naked Scientists this week, co-hosting the show down the line from a cosy little BBC studio in Great Portland Street. Sadly, this means I miss out on the cake up in the Cambridge studio, although I do get to sneakily knit through most of the show.

This week we were talking about wind power – including a fun interview I did with the aptly-named Frank Fish, who’s designing wind turbines based on whale fins. there’s a also an interview about a flying wind turbine, and a rather messy kitchen science experiment to demonstrate where the wind comes from. And a couple of news stories showing that science doesn’t have to be expensive and complicated to save lives or lead to new technology.

But the highlight of the show was a real blast from the past – Chris found a cassette tape (remember those?) featuring the first ever time we were on air together, as part of National Science Week around a decade ago.  I can’t believe how young and squeaky I sound!

You can find out more about the show and download it here, and listen to the audio through this little player:

The Naked Scientists – bird brains

Cuckoos. Pesky parasites or paragons of behavioural evolution, depending how you look at it

Cuckoos. Pesky parasites or paragons of behavioural evolution, depending how you look at it

I was on the Naked Scientists again last Sunday, but back in the studio in Cambridge. I was so busy catching up on the gossip  with co-host (and new author!) Helen Scales that I forgot to take any pictures this week.  Blog FAIL.

Anyway, it was a really fun show, as always, based loosely on the science of birds.  We had a fascinating discussion about cuckoos with Becky Kilner, and an interview with the aptly named Chris Bird talking about clever crows. Plus flying protractors in kitchen science.

Here’s the show – enjoy!

Naked Scientists – remotely

The view from Western House - uninspiring

The view from Western House - uninspiring and no cake!

I was on the Naked Scientists again on Sunday, after our summer hiatus.

In a fascinating show, we talked about stem cells for healing the heart and “soft” nanotechnology (and why the visions of tiny submarines floating around our bloodstream a la The Fantastic Voyage is a load of rubbish), as well as a fab kitchen science all about bendy bones.

What’s a bit different about this show is that I was coming down the line from a studio in London (Western House, home of Radio 2 and 6Music). Can you tell?

I think the only real blooper on the live show happened when I didn’t come in with a cue, because I couldn’t hear the trailer going out. We’ll fix it next time (and hopefully it’s edited out of the podcast).

Anyway, here’s the audio – enjoy!

Link to file

I’m on the show again this Sunday (6-7pm live on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire), but I’ll be in the Cambridge studio (hurrah – cake!).  Helen Scales and I will be talking about our feathered friends and twittering about the world of birds. But really it’s all about the cake.

I’m on the telly!

Me - onna telly!

Me - onna telly!

I was interviewed by Clare Balding for the One Show a few weeks ago, and they finally aired it last night. You can watch the whole show here:

Link to the One Show – 3rd September 2009

The segment on Cancer Research UK’s new campaign starts at 1min26, I’m on at about 3min45 talking to Clare, who has recently been treated for thyroid cancer.

The World Conference of Science Journalists – Biomedical reporting

The World Conference of Science Journalists. It was ace.

The World Conference of Science Journalists. It was ace. I would like to be a science journalist when I grow up.

At the beginning of July I managed to wangle a  pass to the World Conference of Science Journalists in London. This was an epic meeting – three days of intense and fascinating discussion on a wide range of topics related to science and its reporting in the global media.

My colleague Ed Yong has done a bunch of great reports on some of the most controversial topics, and there are more reports and podcasts on the WCSJ news site.

As well as being there for my own personal and professional interest (and as vice-chair of the Association of British Science Writers), I was making a podcast for the Naked Scientists about the Wellcome Trust-funded biomedical strand of the conference.

Here’s my effort – it’s about 30 mins long but it’s really interesting, I promise.

Marvel!! as Ben Goldacre (off of that there Bad Science blog) goes off on a rant about how evil journalists are!

Gasp!! in amazement as a scientist accuses hacks of being rubbish at covering science!

Nod your head!! in agreement that crackpots probably shouldn’t be given the time of day!

Link to file