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Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England
|Station(s)||BBC Radio 4|
|Time slot||Thursday 16:30-17:00|
|Previous show(s)||Connect, Kaleidoscope|
recorded February 2013
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Quentin Cooper (born 1961, Grimsby) is a science journalist and facilitator, best known as the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Material World. He speaks at science festivals and lectures, and works regularly with science and educational organisations such as the Royal Society and the British Council.
Cooper attended Wintringham school in Grimsby. He then studied for a BSc in Psychology and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh. He then went to University College Cardiff where he obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism Studies.
At the BBC, he started as a producer in News and Current Affairs, then moved to produce youth programmes at Radio Scotland (in Glasgow), and Radio 5 in Manchester where he created programmes such as Hit The North which first united Mark and Lard aka Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley and Bite the Wax presented by the then unknown Armando Iannucci.
Moving to London he produced arts programmes before becoming one of the regular presenters of Kaleidoscope. This then led to him scripting and fronting a range of arts, entertainment, technology and science programmes across Radio 1, 2, 3, 4, 5Live and World Service as well as for over 10 years being a regular film critic first for 5Live then for Radio 2’s Parkinson’s Sunday Supplement. He holds the record for being the guest Michael Parkinson has interviewed most often. While it has more than once been observed he has a “face for radio”, he is a frequent television interviewee and also presented the series Science Fix for BBC Four and New Scientist Reports for Discovery Channel.
From 1999 to 2013 he presented Material World on Radio 4. Described by the Radio Times as “the most accessible, funny and conversational science programme on radio” and by Bill Bryson as “quite the best thing on radio”, in the 2011 BBC Trust review of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of science it was singled out for “particular praise”.
An advisor to many national and international science organisations and festivals and host of numerous recurring and one-off events and conferences, in 2011 he was given an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science by Heriot-Watt University, in 2012 he became the first radio presenter to be made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and in 2013 the University of Edinburgh awarded him an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in recognition of his “major contribution to the public understanding of science and engineering”.
In October 1994, he wrote Maypoles, Martyrs, and Mayhem: 366 days of British customs, myths and eccentricities (ISBN 978-0747518075) a book with Paul Sullivan, an old schoolfriend from Grimsby. The almanac of British customs, myths and beliefs across the year was described by The Times as a “'A perfectly conceived compendium of culture'  and it was serialised by the Sunday Express
He writes occasional articles for many national newspapers, and has been a columnist for publications as diverse as the Fortean Times and the Radio Times (where he was both their technology editor and music editor). As of 2012 he writes a regular column on science and fiction for the international BBC site BBC Future which is not available from within the UK.
On 26 September 2009, he married Suba Subramaniam at St Dunstan's church in Monks Risborough, Buckinghamshire. She is a choreographer and artistic director of Sadhana Dance, as well as an education director for Cape Farewell, UK, an organisation which brings together artists, scientists and schoolchildren to help explore and tackle problems relating to climate change.
- "RSC Honorary Fellows". Rsc.org. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- "Maypoles, Martyrs and Mayhem". Bloomsbury. 1995-07-27. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- "by Subathra Subramaniam". Sadhana Dance. 2012-04-28. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- "Who we are - Cape Farewell - The cultural response to climate change". Cape Farewell. 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- Radio 4 profile
- BBC Radio 4's Material World (with audio archive of programmes)
- Connect archive
- Article by Quentin Cooper on Cape Farewell
- His father
- BBC Trust Review
- Honorary Fellow RSC
- Presenting at the 2007 Cheltenham Festival of Science
- The Noughties - was that it? (BBC3) November 2009