George McGavin

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George C. McGavin

George McGavin Borneo by Tim Martin.jpg
McGavin looking for insects in a hollowed-out log in Borneo
Born1954[citation needed]
Glasgow, Scotland[citation needed]
Alma mater

George C. McGavin FLS FRGS Hon. FSB Hon. FRES[1] is a British entomologist, author, academic, television presenter and explorer.[2][3][4][5]


McGavin attended Daniel Stewart's College, a private school in Edinburgh,[6] then studied Zoology at the University of Edinburgh from 1971 to 1975, followed by a PhD in entomology at Imperial College, London.[5] He went on to teach and research at the University of Oxford.[7] He is Honorary Research Associate at Oxford University Museum of Natural History[2][3] and the Department of Zoology of Oxford University, where he lists his interests as "Terrestrial arthropods especially in tropical forests, caves and savannah. Public understanding of science. Exploration."[8] He is also a visiting professor of entomology at the University of Derby.[5]

McGavin is a Fellow of the Linnean Society and of the Royal Geographical Society, and has several insect species named in his honour.[2][9][10] He was previously Assistant Curator of Entomology at Oxford University's Museum of Natural History.[11][12]

McGavin has lectured at the Cheltenham Science Festival,[12] given the Royal Geographical Society children's Christmas lecture and contributes to their Schools Programme. He won Earthwatch's "Irreplaceable – The World's Most Invaluable Species" debate, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, in 2008[13] and he is a lecturer on board Cunard ships.[14] In 2017 he gave the Royal Entomological Society's Verrall Lecture speaking on 'Tales from television: an entomologist's perspective'[15]

He is a patron of the charity Wildscreen,[16] of the Bees, Wasp and Ants Recording Scheme and of the Alderney Records Centre;[17], he is president of Dorset Wildlife Trust[18] and is a Global Ambassador for Earthwatch.

He enjoys eating insects, which he describes as "flying prawns".[9]


McGavin was a presenter for the BBC and Discovery Channel US series Expedition Borneo (2007), and was co-presenter of the BBC series Expedition, for which he has conducted three expeditions: Lost Land of the Jaguar (2008), Lost Land of the Volcano (2009), and Lost Land of the Tiger, in Bhutan (2010).[4][11][19] He is also a regular contributor to The One Show (BBC1) and has appeared on the Richard & Judy show to cook and eat insects.[20]

He was Series Consultant and a contributor on Infested (Granada/ITV, 2002)[20] and was the Chief Scientific Consultant for the David Attenborough series Life in the Undergrowth.[4]

His other TV appearances include What's up Doc? (STV), Tomorrow's World (BBC), Package Holiday Undercover (ITV), Facing the Music (BBC), Take One Museum (Channel 4) and various national and local news programmes.

His programme Afterlife: The Science of Decay was screened by the BBC on 6 December 2011.[21][22]

From July 2011, another BBC programme, The Dark, about the nocturnal activities of animals, was produced.[23] This started transmission on BBC2 on 29 July 2012 and on BBC HD a day later. In October 2012, he appeared, with co-presenter Dr Alice Roberts in the BBC series Prehistoric Autopsy.[24] In 2014, he presented Monkey Planet and a two-part series on BBC Four: Dissected: The Incredible Human Hand and Dissected: The Incredible Human Foot.[25]

In October 2017, McGavin presented a one-off BBC documentary Oak Tree: Nature's Greatest Survivor.[26]

In 2018 McGavin and Zoe Laughlin made a BBC Four documentary The Secret Life of Landfill: A Rubbish History, exploring the fate and future of rubbish deposited in landfill sites.[27][28]

In 2020, McGavin and Helen Czerski presented a 90-minute BBC Four documentary called Ocean Autopsy: The Secret Story of Our Seas which concerned the changes both in North Sea and in the world's oceans.[29]

Personal life[edit]

McGavin was the guest on the long-running Desert Island Discs on the BBC Radio 4 programme on 7 February 2021, hosted by Lauren Laverne, where he talked about the challenge he faced in his childhood with a severe stutter.[30][31]


  • —— (1988). Discovering Bugs. Discovering Bugs., 45pp
  • —— (1992). Insects of the Northern Hemisphere. Limpsfield & London: Dragon's World., 192pp
  • —— (1993). Bugs of the World. Blandford Press., 192pp
  • —— (1997). Expedition Field Techniques: Insects and other terrestrial arthropods. London: Royal Geographical Society., 90pp
  • —— (2000). Dorling Kindersley Handbooks: Insects, spiders and other terrestrial arthropods. Dorling Kindersley., 255pp
  • —— (2001). Essential Entomology: an order by order introduction. Oxford University Press., 318pp
  • —— (2005). Dorling Kindersley Pocket Nature: Insects and Spiders. Dorling Kindersley., 224pp
  • —— (2006). Endangered: wildlife on the brink of extinction. Cassells-Illustrated., 192pp
  • Simpson, S.J. and McGavin, G.C. (1996), The Right Fly, Aurum Press, London, 192pp
  • Simpson, S.J. and McGavin, G.C. (1996), The Angler's Fly Identifier, Running Press Book Publishers, Philadelphia, 192pp
  • Simpson, S.J. and McGavin, G.C. (1997), Angler's Flies, Apple Press, 80pp


  1. ^ "Dr George McGavin". Royal Entomological Society. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Entomology: Staff". Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Revealing New Guinea's forest secrets". BBC Online. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Public Lecture – 'To the Ends of the Earth' with Dr. George McGavin". Durham University. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Q&A with Dr George McGavin". EarthWatch. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Biological Sciences – Alumni – George McGavin". The University of Edinburgh. 13 August 2015.
  7. ^ University of Edinburgh biography.
  8. ^ "Staff: Academic". Department of Zoology, University of Oxford. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Bug man". BBC. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  10. ^ Vetta, Sylvia (27 January 2009). "The insect champion". Oxford Times. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  11. ^ a b "Dr George McGavin – Expedition Borneo". Oxford University Exploration Club. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  12. ^ a b "Oxford University Museum of Natural History Annual Report 2006–2007" (PDF). Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  13. ^ "Bees declared the winners in Earthwatch's own Strictly Come Species battle". 21 November 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  14. ^ Shanks, Peter (2 March 2010). "50 DAYS AROUND THE WORLD ON QUEEN MARY 2". Cunard. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  15. ^ "2017 Verrall Lecturer". Royal Entomological Society.
  16. ^ WildScreen Annual Review 2010 (PDF). Wildscreen. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  17. ^ "Who". Alderney Wildlife Trust. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
  18. ^ "In conversation with our President Dr George McGavin | Dorset Wildlife Trust".
  19. ^ "BBC team discovers "lost" tigers". BBC Press Office. 20 September 2010.
  20. ^ a b "Dr George McGavin". Royal Institution. Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  21. ^ "Afterlife". BBC Online Press Office. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
  22. ^ "Afterlife: The Science of Decay". BBC Online. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  23. ^ "BBC unveils new natural history commissions". BBC Online press office. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
  24. ^ "Prehistoric Autopsy". BBC Online. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  25. ^ Radio Times 22–28 February 2014
  26. ^ "BBC Four - Oak Tree: Nature's Greatest Survivor". BBC.
  27. ^ Walton, James (25 August 2018). "I had no idea how fascinating rubbish could be: The Secret Life of Landfill reviewed". The Spectator. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  28. ^ "The Secret Life of Landfill: A Rubbish History". BBC Four. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  29. ^ "Ocean Autopsy: The Secret Story of Our Seas". BBC Four. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  30. ^
  31. ^ ""The One Show" about stuttering — Department of Experimental Psychology".

External links[edit]