Articles

My role at the BBC currently involves commissioning and overseeing digital documentaries, but below are a selection of my written stories.

BBC Future

The part of my dad that dementia can’t take

Why not all screen time is the same for children

Locked up and vulnerable: When prison makes things worse

Why the way we talk to children matters

How hard is it to fake an accent?

What does your accent say about you?

How Did the Last Neanderthals Live?

Why do only some people get blackout drunk?

The unique way the Dutch treat mentally ill prisoner

The devious art of lying by telling the truth

Educationism: The hidden bias we often ignore

Polyamorous relationships may be the future of love

The enduring appeal of conspiracy theories

How deep brain stimulation silenced food cravings

The woman whose tumour made her religion deadly

How air pollution is doing more than killing us

How feeling bad changes the brain

How a city that floods is running out of water

Why plastic pollution is not just an ocean problem

The hidden upsides of revenge

A brief history of our desire to peer into the brain

The traits that make human beings unique

BBC Earth

The woman who gave her life to save the gorillas

The Cracks Ripping Earth Apart

In Siberia in 1908, a huge explosion came out of nowhere

What is our Universe made of?

The disaster that helped end the US whaling industry

The sinister reason why people fall in love

How cancer was created by evolution

The surprising origin of humanity’s most deadly disease

What really happens to food when you drop it on the floor

Did Charles Darwin use his children for science?

Why humans need less sleep than any other primate

Why killer whales should not be kept in captivity

Many animals seem to kill themselves, but it is not suicide

A bite from this fly puts you into a deadly sleep

The first people who populated the Americas

Chins are a bit useless so why do we have them?

In Siberia there is a huge crater and it is getting bigger

The people who ate each other

Where did the ability to dance come from?

Humans are nowhere near as special as we like to think

How violent are gorillas really?

Seemingly peaceful gorillas join ‘mobs’ and beat up rivals

A change in diet may have helped our brains get bigger

A mysterious new species could be the earliest humans

Mystery ancient hobbit ‘was not human’

On the trail of orangutan killers

The strange origin of Scotland’s stone circles

Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked mammal

We did not invent clothes simply to stay warm

The real origin of North America’s wolves

Why bullying is such a successful evolutionary strategy

Why have animals evolved a sense of beauty?
11 May 2015 – Evolution is supposed to be a ruthless process that forces animals to survive at all costs, so why did an appreciation for beauty evolve?

We have made it harder for big-brained animals to survive

The secret volcanoes that made over half the Earth’s surface

Our weird lack of hair may be the key to our success

There is a new species of whale that nobody has seen alive

The remote lake that tells the story of humanity’s birth

Secrets of the world’s oldest funeral feast

What Neanderthals’ healthy teeth tell us about their minds

The mystery of Neanderthals’ massive eyes

What did the Neanderthals do for us?

Human evolution was shaped by interbreeding

Why are we the only human species still alive?

The monkeys that act as midwives

World’s rarest ape is teetering on the edge of extinction

The surprising way Neanderthals got herpes

Parents reshaped their children’s skulls, for their own good

Why we do not sleep around all that much any more

Many animals can give birth without mating

The birds that fear death

Why do some countries still hunt whales?

The wild chimpanzee who cared for her child with disability

The animal that doesn’t get cancer

When you were a baby, you were not scared of snakes

This cat was reared for one purpose: to be mummified

BBC News

I wrote dozens of news articles during my time as a science reporter for BBC News – below are a selection of features – news articles can be read here.

The Disruptors – What will the doctor order? – BBC News

Unsung technique behind key science discoveries
Science & Environment / 18 December 2013
Crystallography is a vital scientific method for understanding the properties of solid objects. It underpins many fields of study, yet remains…

Can virtual reality be used to tackle racism?
Science & Environment / 28 November 2013
It’s an uncomfortable truth but scientists say most people have an ingrained racial bias. Now a team has shown that a short stint in a virtual…

How dangerous are false widow spiders?
Science & Environment / 23 October 2013
A school has been closed because of a venomous false widow spider, and experts say they are on the increase. But how much of a threat do they…

Why does the human brain create false memories?
Science & Environment / 29 September 2013
Human memory constantly adapts and moulds itself to fit the world. Now an art project hopes to highlight just how fallible our recollections are.

China’s new phase of panda diplomacy
Science & Environment / 24 September 2013
For more than half a century, China has used its pandas to help foster relationships with other countries. These diplomatic loans are now entering…

Are ideas to cool the planet realistic?
Science & Environment / 20 September 2013
The deliberate large-scale manipulation of the Earth’s environment, called geoengineering, could be one way to cool the Earth or help reduce levels…

Particle detector-inspired art installed in London ice well
23 August 2013
An art installation designed to recreate the wonder of an underground particle detector is installed in a London ice well.

What does a stem cell burger taste like?
Science & Environment / 5 August 2013
The first lab-grown burger has now been cooked in a frying pan and tasted by two food writers. But did it live up to all its hype? The event certainly…

Creating new life – and other ways to feed the world
Science & Environment / 22 July 2013
How best to feed a growing population in a changing climate is fiercely debated with many new and emerging research fields hoping to provide a…

Mysterious Voynich manuscript has ‘genuine message’
Science & Environment / 22 June 2013
The message inside “the world’s most mysterious medieval manuscript” has eluded cryptographers, mathematicians and linguists for over a century.

Applicants wanted for a one-way ticket to Mars
Science & Environment / 17 April 2013
Want to go to Mars? Dutch organisation Mars One says it will open applications imminently. It would be a one-way trip, and the company hopes to…

What history should be in the UK citizenship test?
Magazine / 29 January 2013
A new version of the UK citizenship test, with a greater focus on history, has been announced by the Home Office. Which events should immigrants…

Alcohol dependency: When social drinking becomes a problem
Health / 15 December 2012
Alcohol-related health issues among baby boomers are on the rise. Daily drinking can start off as a social event but turn into dependency, addiction…

How the GI influx shaped Britain’s view of Americans
Magazine / 3 November 2012
It is now 70 years since GIs first landed on British soil to join their allies during WWII.

A tipping point in the fight against slavery?
Magazine / 18 October 2012
There are, shockingly, more people in slavery today than at any time in human history – but campaigners think the world is close to a tipping…

10 things readers want in a history of the world
Magazine / 24 September 2012
Andrew Marr’s History of the World is attempting to tell the story of civilisation in eight hour-long episodes. Last week he spoke of the difficulty…

Richard III: The people who want everyone to like the infamous king
Magazine / 14 September 2012
King Richard III was painted by Shakespeare as an evil, hunchbacked and brutish man who plotted and murdered his way to the crown, but a society…

In search of a baby called Derek
Magazine / 14 August 2012
Despite the trend for pre-war baby names, some seem to resist rehabilitation. Will people ever start calling their babies Derek again? Alfie,…

Google’s doodles: Who’s behind them?
Magazine / 12 August 2012
The occasional artistic “doodles” that replace the Google logo are seen by hundreds of millions of people. But who are the brains behind them?

London 2012: 20 lesser-spotted things of the Olympics so far
Magazine / 6 August 2012
The attention is always on the gold medal performances, roaring comebacks and agonising defeats at the Olympics, but what about all the little…

The rise in women seeking a perfect vagina
Health / 24 July 2012
A research charity has launched an animated film hoping it will encourage debate about the surge of women seeking “designer vaginas”. The film…

Peasants’ Revolt: The time when women took up arms
Magazine / 14 June 2012
Until now the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 is largely believed to have been led by a mob of rebel men, but new research shows women played an important…

Can you love a fake piece of art?
Magazine / 3 June 2012
A court battle is fought over whether a painting is fake, a drawing said to be Warhol is disputed, but is there ever a case for cherishing the…\

‘Antipsychotic drugs made me want to kill myself’
Health / 6 May 2012
While antipsychotic drugs are seen as the most effective treatment of psychotic episodes, they are also recognised to have devastating side effects.

Will adverts at the Olympics increase fast food consumption?
Health / 18 April 2012
Health campaigners are calling for restrictions on fast food adverts at large sporting events, but would limiting these adverts make any difference…

‘Musical stars’ that help scientists search for new life
Science & Environment / 17 April 2012
Stars may be many light-years away but the sounds they produce can give scientists insights into their size, age and whether habitable Earth-like…

The mutant fruit flies that tell us about human disease
Science & Environment / 23 March 2012
The common fruit fly and human beings may look nothing alike but appearances can be deceiving. The two species not only share around 70% of the…

Were single mothers better off in the 19th Century?
Magazine / 5 March 2012
As far back as the 1800s, single mothers were receiving benefits. At that time, they would be paid up front and in cash, but were they better…

America and Russia: Uneasy partners in space
Science & Environment / 21 February 2012
Space exploration today benefits from collaboration between the United States and Russia. But a history of intense rivalry – in space, as elsewhere…

Were extreme suffragettes regarded as terrorists?
Magazine / 11 February 2012
A century ago, British women still did not have the vote and violent protests by the suffragettes were escalating. Were these women seen at the…

“If this is the kind of eccentric cultural mini-doc BBC Reel is hoping to specialise in, it should be applauded.The Times

the times newspaper

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