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Coast: Meet the presenters - Hermione Cockburn

Updated Tuesday, 14th July 2009

Meet Hermione Cockburn, who has just joined the team of presenters for Coast.

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What has been the highlight of the new series for you?

Hermione Cockburn in Blackpool Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC Hermione Cockburn at Blackpool Well, it was great to be involved again and the highlight was undoubtedly presenting a story about Robert Mallet, an Irish businessman who carried out scientific experiments into earthquakes in the mid 19th Century. His work was the foundation of the modern science of seismology, the study of earthquakes. He wanted to investigate how shock waves travelled through the earth and he did that by detonating an explosion on Killiney Beach near Dublin. Nearly 160 years later, Coast have recreated his experiment; needless to say it was great fun!

Why do you think it's important that we understand more about our coastline?

One reason is that the coast is a very dynamic natural environment and, if we're going to make informed choices about how to manage it, protect it and develop it, the more we know the better decisions we can make.

What is your favourite area/beach/aspect of the UK coastline?

I have a soft spot for the chalk cliffs at Brighton as I have lots of childhood memories of wandering along the under-cliff walk between Brighton Marina and Rottingdean. It was a favourite family day trip when I was growing up in Sussex. Since moving to Scotland almost 19 years ago, I have fallen in love with the north west coast and Scottish islands. The beaches are stunning with white sands and turquoise water and quite often you can have them to yourself. Undercliff walk at Rottingdean Creative commons image Icon scotticus under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license Undercliff Walk, Rottingdean

Coast has grown into something of a national institution - why do you think people are so interested/passionate about the coast?

I think, for many people, the series triggers fond memories of seaside holidays. So it may be partly nostalgia and a sense of escapism that makes them watch. Once you start watching I think the programmes become compulsive viewing, due the huge diversity of stories covered - you never quite know what surprising gem will be up next!

How did you get involved with presenting Coast?

After working on a series called Rough Science, I was asked whether I wanted to present a story in Coast Series 2 about a potential windfarm development on Lewis. I had recently spent a week there on holiday and jumped at the chance to go back and investigate such an important issue as well as work on one of the BBC's best factual shows.

What have you personally gained from your involvement with the series?

I've been to places that I could well have visited myself but I never would have got the chance to meet the people that I have interviewed for the series. I remember meeting an elderly chap and an 83 year old woman who had both worked in secret listening stations on the Norfolk coast during World War II. Talking to them was absolutely fascinating. It's experiences like that make working on the series so rewarding.

Where would you like to see Coast go next?

One of my favourite islands is Tiree and I don't think Coast have been there yet. Generally speaking more programmes taking in the Scottish islands would suit me as there's plenty I haven't been to but would love the chance to visit.

Do you have any Open University connections outside Coast?

I am an Associate Lecturer with the OU in Scotland and I tutor a second level Environmental Science course. I've also worked on other BBC/OU co-productions, most recently presenting Fossil Detectives. I do science outreach in conjunction with The Open University - for example I presented talks at the Milton Keynes and Edinburgh science festival this year.

Photo of Chalk Cliffs at Rottingdean, Sussex, by Scotticus_ on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Find out more

Watch videos, order the new Coast booklet and find out why this series of Coast goes further than any other: Coast on OpenLearn





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