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2008-10-18: La nuova serie BBC “Fossil Detectives” e la sua conduttrice Hermione Cockburn

In Gran Bretagna parte sulla rete BBC 2 una nuova serie di documentari dedicati alla Paleontologia e ai fossili intitolata “Fossil Detectives”.

Nell’articolo riportato sotto (in inglese) le considerazioni della conduttrice, la geologa Hermione Cockburn.

Esplora i link per informazioni e video sulla serie.

Hermione meets the dinosaurs of Crystal Palace

Hermione meets the dinosaurs of Crystal Palace


Supporta questo Blog comprando il libro ufficiale della serie:

(support this Blog buying the official book)


Discovering Prehistoric Britain
The Fossil Detectives: Discovering Prehisto…
by Hermione Cockburn


Hermione finds her love on the rocks

Published Date: 18 October 2008

TO the casual observer, the pile of rocks neatly arranged on Hermione Cockburn’s breakfast table looks, well, like a rather unremarkable pile of rocks.
But as the one-time Edinburgh academic and now TV presenter reaches for one, her eyes suddenly light up.

She has just finished travelling the length and breadth of the British Isles making a new series, Fossil Detectives, for the BBC and sees the shiny pebble in her hand as a remnant of a lost world in which dinosaurs roamed the Earth and even David Attenborough had yet to make a natural history documentary.

Indeed, the grand old man of the Beeb’s factual programming department is just one of a host of fellow fossil enthusiasts who Hermione met while filming.

Former Blur bass player and now full-time country gent Alex James and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg also helped delve into Britain’s pre-history.

“David Attenborough’s my hero,” says Hermione. “I got to meet him and interview him for the programme because he’s had a lifelong interest in fossils. He has a fantastic collection and I was able to go to his house and sit on his sofa to talk about them – it was wonderful.”

Attenborough’s skill for storytelling and the special place afforded him in the nation’s heart is

‘Whole foundation of modern geology began in Edinburgh’

something Hermione would no doubt love to emulate.

The 35-year-old, who grew up in Sussex, came to the Capital in 1990 to study geography at Edinburgh University and later went on to complete a PhD in geomorphology, the study of how land is formed.

For most, that would have led to a career and a life spent marvelling over rocks alongside fellow academics.

But thanks to a competition launched by the now defunct Tomorrow’s World – a contest which Hermione describes as an X Factor for academics – she won a chance to present a range of BBC documentaries including What the Ancients Did For Us and Coast.

Hermione’s eventual triumph in the BBC talent competition came after she won a telephone vote, having already wowed the Simon Cowells of the natural history department with her discussion of a lump of fossilised wood which showed there were once trees on Antarctica.

Her relative youth no doubt helped ease out some of the crustier specimens lurking in universities up and down the land, but her infectious enthusiasm is undeniable.

“It was amazing being in front of the cameras for the first time, really thrilling.” she says. “It gave me a real insight into how TV works. I found that whole experience fantastic and I gradually went on to do more and more pieces for the BBC, including some stuff for Radio 4.”

Ask Hermione about a trip to Loch Ness during the making of Fossil Detectives and she quickly dismisses Nessie in favour of the “more interesting” topic of how the bottom of the loch can be used to chart deforestation, the birth of agriculture and even the impacts of fallout from the Chernobyl disaster.

“I love the story of the Loch Ness Monster and I like the idea that people can go there and think about it,” she says.

“But, for me, the science is the more interesting story. The bottom of the loch is like the rings of a tree – there’s stuff there that tells us about the history of our world.

“I think fossils are one of those subjects where people just go ‘ugh’, but when you actually see them close up they’re absolutely fascinating. I still get really excited when I find a fossil, and people who have never gone looking for fossils don’t know what a treat they’re missing.”

The filming for the show also took Hermione to Yorkshire, where she abseiled down a rocky outpost to give viewers a close-up view of a dinosaur fossil.

“I don’t think the excitement of finding a fossil is something which ever really leaves you. For me, it’s like unearthing a piece of buried treasure,” she adds.

She has also been working on a series called Nature of Britain in which she shows viewers how volunteers are working in our communities to establish and take care of nature reserves.

When she’s not making TV programmes, Hermione loves to be outdoors and is a keen hillwalker and gardener.

It was when she was surfing with her university sweetheart Jon on a freezing day at Coldingham Bay in East Lothian in 2002 that he asked her to marry him. The couple now live in Tollcross.

“The best things about fossils is the link to the past and these mysterious lost worlds,” she continues. “They’re not just dusty old stones. People should just watch the series and see what they think. From the feedback I’ve had so far people have really enjoyed it and it seems to have quite a broad appeal.”

The good news for fossil fans is that the geology of Scotland is more varied than any other country of comparable size anywhere else in the world.

It was in Edinburgh in the 18th century that James Hutton developed his theories on the age of the Earth while studying the rock formations of Salisbury Crags.

From his work in Holyrood Park, Hutton deduced the Earth was far older then anyone had previously imagined.

“The whole foundation of modern geology began in Edinburgh with James Hutton and there were people like Hugh Miller who amassed a huge fossil collection,” Hermione says.

“For those interested in learning more about fossils, we have the National Museum on Chambers Street and Our Dynamic Earth also has a good collection.”

Hermione again reaches for a specimen from her miniature rock pile on the kitchen table. She turns it over in her palm, showing me the furrowed lines of some long-forgotten organism preserved forever in its stony surround.

Her eyes are shining once again.

The first episode of Fossil Detectives will be shown on BBC 2 at 7pm on Tuesday, October 28. Visit for more details.

ottobre 18, 2008 - Posted by | Europa, Italiano (riassunto), Paleontology / Paleontologia, TV | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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