BBC Coast presenter shares his love of the British Isles with Stevenage audience

PUBLISHED: 14:10 02 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:10 02 October 2018

Neil Oliver - The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places can be seen at Stevenage's Gordon Craig Theatre Concert Hall. Picture: Grant Beed

Neil Oliver - The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places can be seen at Stevenage's Gordon Craig Theatre Concert Hall. Picture: Grant Beed

Grant Beed

A presenter of BBC TV series Coast will share his love of Great Britain with an audience in Stevenage this weekend.

Neil Oliver - The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places can be seen in Stevenage.Neil Oliver - The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places can be seen in Stevenage.

Archaeologist, historian and author Neil Oliver will be bringing his tour The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places to the Concert Hall at the Gordon Craig Theatre on Saturday, October 6.

Based on his new book, The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places will give audiences the opportunity to share Oliver’s enthusiasm and unique perspective of British history.

In his amusing and entertaining way he will explain what it all means to him and why we need to cherish and celebrate our wonderful nation.

While filming Coast, Neil “fell in love all over again with the British Isles”.

Neil Oliver - The Story of the British Isles in 100 PlacesNeil Oliver - The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places

Explaining what inspired him to go on tour, he said: “I saw a flyer for Ray Mears’ show.

“He was going to be playing at the Albert Halls near us in Stirling. My wife said to me, ‘Why don’t you do a show like that?’

“I’ve done lots of book tours and festivals before, and I began to think that the book that had been commissioned from me, The Story of The British Isles in 100 Places, would lend itself particularly well to a tour of Britain.

“So I decided to do it, and now I’m really excited about it.”

Neil Oliver - The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places can be seen in Stevenage. Picture: Grant BeedNeil Oliver - The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places can be seen in Stevenage. Picture: Grant Beed

Born in Renfrewshire in Scotland, Neil Oliver studied archaeology at the University of Glasgow and freelanced as an archaeologist before training as a journalist.

In 2002 he made his television debut with BBC Two’s Two Men in a Trench, which featured Oliver and his close friend Tony Pollard visiting historic British battlefields.

Since that time he has been a regular on our screens.

Of selecting which 100 Places to include in his latest book, he said: “Over the last 20 years, TV has taken me on a very unusual tour of Britain.

Neil Oliver - The Story of the British Isles in 100 PlacesNeil Oliver - The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places

“As well as iconic places such as the White Cliffs of Dover, Edinburgh and Cardiff, I’ve gone to unexpected, remote places that take quite a lot of getting to.

“They are places that people have never heard of. So I’d become aware that an idiosyncratic chronology of the British Isles had formed in my head.”

He added: “I had seen everything from very early human settlements around Happisburgh, where there are footprints from 800,000 years ago, through the Stone and Metal Ages to sites connected to great moments from a more modern era.

“I thought I could easily choose 100 places – in fact, I could have chosen 500.

“I realised there was a story to be told from very early to modern times by introducing people to these places.”

As well as loving places like St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, one of Oliver’s other favourite haunts is the Tower of London.

He said: “The Tower of London is a fascinating place. It’s an icon.

“I’ll be inviting audiences to look at it in a different way.

“It’s dwarfed by modern London and almost looks like a toy. But the parish church inside it, St Peter ad Vincula, is astonishing.

“In front of the altar is a shallow grave containing the bodies of Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey, Thomas More, William Lord and many more.

“They are all there, having been dispatched by the executioner’s axe.

“It’s the antithesis of Westminster Abbey, where the glorious dead are revered.

“At the Tower of London, they are tucked away and buried in shallow graves to be forgotten.”

Neil Oliver: The Story of The British Isles in 100 Places can be seen in Stevenage on Saturday, October 6 at 8pm.

For tickets, visit www.gordoncraig.co.uk or call the Gordon Craig Theatre box office on 01438 363200.

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