Full news release - The Open University

Media Relations Office
Communications Group
The Open University
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1908 653343
+44 (0)1908 652247
For the attention of: television and news editors
16 June 2005 [PR5031]
Opening the Coast
The nation’s love affair with the coast will be reawakened by The Open University and
the BBC in an entertaining and ambitious exploration of the entire UK coastline.
In 13 programmes Coast celebrates the unique character of the UK’s coastal
communities, exploring a wealth of fascinating human stories through a mixture of
expert comment, contemporary storytelling and computer-generated images. This is
the coast as never seen before.
The series is part of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar (Trafalgar 200) and
Sea Britain 2005.
A team of history and geography experts will investigate everything from life on a
nuclear submarine; rebuilding the Titanic using computer images; the story behind the
first Butlins holiday camp; and the birth of the Severn Bore.
The experts presenting this series are Nicholas Crane, geographer, writer and
presenter of BBC Two’s Map Man series; Neil Oliver, a journalist and historian who copresented Two Men in a Trench; Dr Alice Roberts, a qualified medical doctor and an
expert in anatomy and human bones; Miranda Krestovnikoff, a zoologist and presenter
on BBC, Channel 4 and UKTV history series covering subjects as diverse as metal
detecting, local history and marine conservation; and Mark Horton, an archaeologist
and presenter of Time Flyers.
“Coast is a series that will matter to everyone in the UK – we all have a stake in our
coastline, whether our holidays or jobs depend on it,” says OU academic consultant to
the series Joe Smith. “The series breaks new ground by bringing together social and
Page 1 of 5
natural history, ecology, technology, science of environmental change and more. If you
want to make sense of the coast you’ve got to take this kind of rounded view, which is
why the OU has a large multi-disciplinary team of advisors working on this series.”
“The OU has chosen to be involved with Coast because it reflects our broad, open and
engaging approach to learning. The series is a treasure trove of learning opportunities.
It will trigger people’s interest, and the OU can provide a way for them to go much
deeper into the issues that have captured their imagination.”
Series Producer, Gill Tierney, says: “We hope that as a result of this TV programme;
the coastal walks; and the events taking place across the country, families will rediscover the coast of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
She adds: “Coast is the opportunity for people to discover a wealth of fascinating
stories and see the coastline in a completely new way.”
There is also a book to accompany the series, which is an illustrated celebration of the
UK’s coastal areas. Coast by Christopher Somerville is published by BBC Books on 14
July. Additionally, the OU are producing a set of activity postcards which will provide
viewers with the opportunity to further interact with the coast.
Coast: programme by programme
July 22: The South Coast - Dover to Exmouth
This stretch of coast is Britain’s front line, littered with the remnants of war, but also
home to the world renowned Jurassic Coast. Neil Oliver travels to Alderney in the
Channel Islands to meet a survivor of the only Nazi concentration camp ever to be built
on allied soil. Nick Crane – along with a group of OU scientists - investigates the once
top secret constructions at the front line of Britain’s air defences – giant concrete sound
mirrors. While Miranda Krestovnikoff goes diving to film a host of exotic species only
100m offshore.
July 24: South West England – Exmouth to Bristol
The South West peninsula of England bears the brunt of our worst storms. Dr Alice
Roberts investigates how human greed led to an entire village being washed into the
sea; Nick unearths the little-known history of the Slave trade in Plymouth, while Neil
and Mark try to wreck a ship using nothing but an 18th century lantern; and Miranda
comes face to face with the UK’s only native shark – the Porbeagle.
July 29: South Wales – Bristol to Cardigan Bay
The south coast of Wales has the second highest tidal range in the world; it’s that tidal
surge that brings with it the Severn Bore, one of the world’s most extraordinary natural
Page 2 of 5
phenomena. Nick explains how it’s created, and follows it as it heads up river. Neil
explores the history of Cardiff coal, and visits the exchange where the world’s first £1
million cheque was signed, as well as heading offshore to the most remote lighthouse
in the UK. While Alice gets acquainted with the Red Lady of Paviland – Britain’s 1st
modern human who lived on this shore 26,000 years ago.
July 31: North Wales – Aberystwyth to the Dee
Neil meets Twm Elias who tells the story of a Welsh Atlantis lost beneath the waves.
Miranda goes in search of the giant leatherback turtles which travel each year from the
Caribbean to Cardigan Bay. Alice descends into the underground caves of the Great
Orme, a bronze age civilisation which sits side by side with the holiday resort of
Llandudno. Nick canoes some of the most treacherous waters in Britain, the Menai
Straits, to tell the story of two great bridges and the engineers who built them.
August 5: North West England – Liverpool to the Solway Firth
Alice investigates 5,000 year old footprints preserved in mud, while Nick takes to the
water in a 100 year old lifeboat to investigate our worst lifeboat disaster. Mark travels to
Maryport in the tracks of the Roman conquest of Northern England and Neil ventures
onto the treacherous sands of Morecambe Bay accompanied by the Queen’s Guide, a
sand pilot who can read the bay like a book. All this and Blackpool too.
August 7: Northern Ireland – The Northern Ireland Coast
Nick explores how the building of the spectacular Antrim coast road mirrors the
troubled history of the province. Neil uses computer imagery to rebuild the Titanic on its
original Harland and Wolff slipway, and Alice heads to the Giants Causeway - a
UNESCO world heritage site since 1968, now under pressure from developers. Mark,
meanwhile, explores the wreck of a Spanish Armada treasure ship that foundered on
these shores.
August 12: Western Scotland – The Coast and Western Isles
Neil joins the crew of the trident submarine HMS Vanguard as they embark upon a
series of gruelling sea trials; Miranda goes hunting for Minke whales; Mark and Neil
recreate the rocket mail service, proposed 70 years ago as an inter-island
communication service; and Nick sails the beautiful Western Isles armed only with a
500 year old guide book.
August 14: Northern Scotland – Cape Wrath to Orkney
Nick takes part in a NATO exercise at the Cape Wrath bombing range. Neil meets the
descendents of people forcibly removed during The Highland Clearances as they
Page 3 of 5
march to the coast in memory of their ancestors, and meets the survivors of the worst
loss of British Naval life in British Waters in Scapa Flow. Alice investigates claims of
pollution coming from the Dounreay fastbreeder reactor.
August 19: Eastern Scotland – John O Groats to Berwick Upon Tweed
Miranda heads to the Moray Firth, home to bottled-nosed dolphins facing the threat of
too many tourist boats. Nick Crane investigates how the oil industry has affected life on
the North Sea Coast and how new technology is enabling us to extract oil from hitherto
untapped sources. He also looks at the audacious feat of engineering behind the Bell
Rock lighthouse. Neil meets three generations of a fishing family in Fraserburgh who
face a bleak future due to falling fish stocks,.
August 21: North East England – Berwick on Tweed to Robin Hoods Bay
Nick explores the holy island of Lindisfarne, the cradle of Christianity and the home of
the priceless Lindisfarne gospels. Alice heads to Howick to help rebuild Britain’s first
house on the exact site of the 10,000 year old original. Neil examines the tensions in
the South Shields of the 1930’s that lead to the UK’s first race riots and Nick
investigates how shipbuilders on this coast have had to turn their hand to dismantling
ships to keep their industry alive. While Miranda gets up close and personal with grey
seals, our first protected species.
August 26: Eastern England – Robin Hoods Bay to The Wash
Nick retraces the steps of 18th century smugglers in Robin Hoods Bay. Neil goes to the
first Butlins Holiday camp, built in Skegness in 1936, to see why it continues to be such
a successful formula. With the decline in fish stocks in British waters, the fishing port of
Grimsby now makes a large part of its income from fish-processing and has become
‘home of the fish finger’. Alice indulges in a touch of alchemy to recreate precious alum
crystals on the 15th century site of the UK’s first chemical industry.
August 28: South East England – Wash to Dover
Nick investigates the freak floods of 1953 which inundated 24,000 homes and killed
307 people. Alice finds evidence of early human migration across an inter-ice age
landbridge to the continent. Nick meets Peter Boggis, a modern King Canute, as he
fights to hold back the sea and save his home from erosion. And Neil celebrates
Trafalgar 200 and unearths a little-known eye-witness account of the battle. At the end
of this programme, Nick finds himself back on the white cliffs where he began, 12
episodes ago.
September 2: Coast the Summary
Page 4 of 5
The final programme of the Coast series takes a more detailed look at some of the
issues that have been highlighted in the earlier episodes and addresses how these
issues will impact on our future. Sea level rise and erosion; the health of our seas and
the wildlife around our shores; power generation – do you want a windfarm in your
back yard or should we opt for nuclear generation? Each of the five presenters travels
to a part of the Coast to further explore the themes and issues close to their hearts.
The team looks at how the British people are engaging with the future of their coastline,
and the implications for tomorrow of decisions being made now.
Coast – The Walks
To tie in with Coast, 39 ‘Discover Your Coast’ walks are being made available for the
public to take part in. These walks equate to one walk per coastal BBC Where I live
site, and of the 39 walks, 12 (Portsmouth, Plymouth, Falmouth, Cardiff, Caernarfon,
Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Whitby, Hull, Great Yarmouth) are mobile
phone interactive walks, enabling people to receive information on what they are
seeing via their mobile phones.
At six of these locations there will be guided walk events, taking place across the
summer, led by OU academics and the Coast presenters.
Editor’s Notes
Coast is scheduled for transmission twice a week, from Friday July 22, with the second
programme in the series on Sunday July 24, and every Friday and Sunday onwards till the end
of the 13 part series, but viewers are advised to check their television listing guide for
For more information on the programme and its related events visit:
http:// www.open2.net
Media contact
Gabi Nobis
01908 655026
Sarah Boswell
0121 567 6277
Page 5 of 5