Prof Alice Roberts
Anatomist, Biological Anthropologist, Author and Broadcaster
Alice has most recently been on our screens presenting Digging for Britain on BBC Four. Last year, Alice completed her first UK Theatre Tour and presented programmes including The Day the Dinosaurs Died and Food Detectives on BBC Two. Other programmes included Uncovering the mysteries of 'Britain's Pompeii and The Greatest Tomb On Earth: Secrets of Ancient China on BBC Four with Dan Snow and Albert Lin, featuring groundbreaking archaeological discoveries in China. She also co-presented The Celts with Neil Oliver and appeared on Britain's Lost Waterlands: Escape to Swallows and Amazons Country with fellow Coast-er, Dick Strawbridge (with whom she won Celebrity Pointless in 2014).
Alice is an anatomist and biological anthropologist, author and broadcaster, and Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham. In the last decade of the twentieth century, she studied medicine and anatomy (MB BCh BSc) at Cardiff University, and worked as a junior doctor in South Wales. She went on to become a lecturer at Bristol University, where she taught anatomy - of humans and other animals - for eleven years. While at Bristol, she became interested in biological anthropology: studying ancient bones and looking for clues about evolution, life, death, and disease in past populations. Her PhD focused on comparing patterns of arthritis in the shoulders of humans and other apes. She also developed a strong interest in public engagement, becoming a television presenter, writing popular science books, and giving public talks. In 2012, Alice became the University of Birmingham’s first Professor of Public Engagement with Science, where she continues to teach anatomy and do some research, as well as encouraging other academics to engage with the public more widely. She has received four honorary doctorates.
Alice has presented a wide range of science and archaeology shows on television. Her television debut came in 2001, as a human bone specialist on Channel 4’s Time Team. She went on to become one of the team of presenters for Channel 4’s Extreme Archaeology, where climbing and caving skills were needed to access archaeological sites.
In 2005, she was part of the original team of presenters on the first series of Coast on BBC Two, and she went on to cover many science and archaeology stories in subsequent series of Coast. She also started to write and present her own series on BBC Two, including two series of Don’t Die Young on BBC Two, looking at the structure and function of the human body, organ by organ. She wrote her first book to accompany this series: Don’t Die Young: An anatomist’s guide to your organs and your health.
In 2009, she solo-presented her first landmark series on BBC Two: The Incredible Human Journey, exploring how clues from genetics, fossils and archaeology have helped us to understand how our Stone Age, hunter-gatherer forebears colonised the globe. She went on to solo-present other big budget, landmark series and programmes on BBC Two, looking at human evolution and palaeobiology more generally, including: Origins of Us, Prehistoric Autopsy, Wooly Mammoth and Ice Age Giants. She has also presented several Horizon programmes, looking at topics of evolution and human diversity and behaviour, tackling such questions as: Are we still evolving? What makes us human? and Is your brain male or female? She also presented the Horizon programme which launched the Longitude Prize 2014, and Sex: A Horizon Guide. She curated an online collection covering 50 Years of Horizon, to celebrate the birthday of this long-running science series in 2014.
In 2010, inspired by Roger Deakin’s Waterlog, and her own love of the great outdoors, Alice made Wild Swimming for BBC4. This lyrical film looked at wildlife, physiology, poetry and mythology - alongside the life-affirming, energising and sensuous experience of swimming ‘wild’ - in lakes, rivers and the sea.
Since 2009, Alice has been an occasional presenter of Radio 4’s environment programme, Costing the Earth. She has written seven popular science and archaeology books: Don’t Die Young, The Incredible Human Journey, The Complete Human Body, Evolution: The Human Story, Human Anatomy, The Incredible unlikeliness of Being (shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize in 2015) and The Celts.
Alice is an accomplished public speaker and regularly tours the country giving lectures related to her books and television programmes. She has conducted many panel debates and interviews. In May 2015, she interviewed Sir David Attenborough live on stage at the Science Museum, and later in the year, Richard Dawkins at the RI. As well as being rated the 2nd most influential woman-scientist-on-Twitter, Alice is also an experienced compere, and has hosted numerous awards ceremonies and launch events, including prestigious events at the Natural History Museum and the Royal Society. She has even been known to give after dinner speeches.