16 Jul 2008

The Fossil Detectives break new ground on BBC FOUR this Summer

Sir David Attenborough and Hermione Cockburn

Sir David Attenborough and Hermione Cockburn

From the dawn of time, Britain has been scalded by volcanoes and scoured by ice; stalked by dinosaurs and surrounded by tropical seas full of strange life. And the evidence for that ancient life is still here – buried inside the rocks of our very own landscape.

In Fossil Detectives, a new, eight-part series for BBC FOUR, funded by The Open University and produced by the BBC’s Natural History Unit, Dr Hermione Cockburn, an associate lecturer with the OU, leads a team of fossil experts and geologists around Britain to uncover and make sense of our ancient past. The series transports the viewer back in time, visiting a different region each week to search for its best fossil treasures and mysteries.

Hermione, together with Dr Phil Manning, Dr Anjana Khatwa and James Wong, explore each region and find tantalising evidence of strange creatures, plants and landscapes long vanished from Britain.

Some famous fossil fans are interviewed about their passion in the series, including broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, musician and writer Alex James, and singer/songwriter Billy Bragg.

Hermione Cockburn, Billy Bragg and his son, Jack

Hermione Cockburn, Billy Bragg and his son, Jack

The Open University has also produced a free field guide to help viewers identify their own fossil finds. This can be obtained by calling 0870 010 0878.

Dr Peter Sheldon, The Open University’s academic consultant on the series, said: "The whole team were totally committed to the series, and have done the OU proud with a set of really interesting programmes.

“There are lots of good moments for viewers to look out for - particularly where Alex James talks poetically at Lulworth Cove about why finding a fossil yourself is so special, and how it helps to put your own life into perspective.

“I hope the free fossil field guide will be very useful, especially for beginners trying to identify their finds. The great thing about palaeontology is that even beginners can make a significant discovery.“

For an exclusive interview with Hermione Cockburn and a full series synopsis - click on the full press pack document in the right hand menu bar.

Editor’s Notes

Fossil Detectives is a fully-funded Open University programme for BBC FOUR.

It was produced by the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol.

The series will broadcast on BBC FOUR in the Summer of 2008.

Series Producer for the BBC is Kerensa Jennings. Executive Editor for the BBC is Fiona Pitcher. Executive Producer for The Open University is Catherine McCarthy. The Open University Academic Consultant is Dr Peter Sheldon and the Broadcast Learning Executive for The Open University is Dr Janet Sumner.

The Open University and BBC have been in partnership for more than 30 years, providing educational programming to a mass audience. In recent times this partnership has evolved from late night programming for delivering courses to peak time programmes with a broad appeal to encourage wider participation in learning.

For Preview DVDs and Publicity stills contact Guy Bailey


Related Courses and programmes from The Open University:-
- S193 Fossils and the history of life
- S180 Life in the oceans: exploring our blue planet
- SA188 Archaeology: the science of investigation
- S186 Volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis

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