16 September 1972
Elizabeth Bonnin (born 16 September 1972) is a science, wildlife and natural history presenter, who has worked on television in both Ireland and the United Kingdom. She is also a biochemist and Wild Animal Biologist. She presented music shows RI:SE and Top of the Pops in the early 2000s.
She is probably best known for presenting wildlife and science programmes like Galapagos, How the Earth Works, Animals in Love, Stargazing Live, Big Blue Live, Cats v Dogs: Which is Best? and Should We Close Our Zoos?.
Early life and education
The family moved to Ireland when she was nine years old. She has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Trinity College, Dublin, and also holds a master's degree in Wild Animal Biology from the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Veterinary College (2008), for which she tracked tigers in Nepal. She continues to work on big cat conservation programmes at the Zoological Society.
Bonnin began her career by joining an Irish girl pop group named Chill, who signed to Polydor but broke up before recording. The band had performed on Dustin the Turkey's third album Faith of Our Feathers, duetting on "We Are Family". She was offered a job hosting the IRMA Awards which led to presenting roles on RTÉ Television in Ireland, on The Den, Telly Bingo, Millennium Eve: Celebrate 2000 and for two years, Off the Rails. At the time she was in a relationship with the publisher John Ryan. In 2002 she moved to London to present on a number of TV channels.
In 2002 she became one of the presenters of the Channel 4 morning show RI:SE, specialising in reporting on entertainment-related stories. In the same year she became a regular presenter on Top of the Pops in the UK.
In 2004 Bonnin was locked in a giant kennel along with MPs Paul Burstow, Evan Harris and Ivan Henderson and actress Liza Goddard, BBC Newsround presenter Lizzie Greenwood and DJ Becky Jago in a stunt to launch the annual RSPCA Week to raise awareness and funds.
Since 2005 Bonnin has been involved in science broadcasting. She presented the show Gadgets, Gadgets, Gadgets (2005–) and co-presented the BBC science series Bang Goes the Theory on BBC1 (2009–2014). In 2008, Bonnin presented a documentary series Science Friction on RTÉ One which looked at taboos in discussions of scientific topics (such as paedophilia and nuclear power) in Ireland. She also contributed to BBC2's series on the work of the London Natural History Museum, Museum of Life.
In October 2010 she joined the cast of Autumnwatch and in January 2011, she presented segments of BBC Two's Stargazing Live from various areas of Hawaii including atop Mauna Kea. In May 2011, she co-presented BBC One's Egypt's Lost Cities. She was a guest presenter from the Pitsea landfill site in Essex, England for June 2011's Springwatch on the BBC.
In October 2014 she presented a three-part Horizon series looking into the life of cats. In February 2015 she presented a two-part documentary series called Animals in Love on BBC One, looking at the emotional lives of animals including elephants, monkeys, geese and alligators.
In March 2015, Bonnin presented episodes of Stargazing Live on BBC Two. In August 2015, alongside Matt Baker and Steve Backshall, she co-hosted a series of three programmes for BBC One, Big Blue Live, featuring marine life in Monterey Bay, California. Early 2016 saw Bonnin return to Stargazing Live, where she reported from the European Space Agency's astronaut training centre. She also co-presented the BBC Two series Cats v Dogs: Which is Best? with Chris Packham.
On 17 April 2016 Bonnin presented a BBC Two Horizon programme Should We Close Our Zoos? in which she reported on issues concerning zoos and their keeping of large mammals and their role in preserving endangered species.
Starting on 30 March 2017, Bonnin presented a new BBC TV series called Galapagos exploring the species found on the islands and in the seas around.
Bonnin grew up with her older sister Benni, while she said that "I was extremely close to my granny, who passed away in 2003." She has moved back to London and said in 2015, "It's a big culture shock when I come back to London after a month away in somewhere like Botswana. I love walking in Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens just to look at the trees and breathe a little before adjusting to life back in the big city."
Liz is a role model for EDF Energy's Pretty Curious programme, which is aimed at encouraging teenage girls to study science-based subjects at school. She has said in a 2016 interview, "FHM offered me a spread but I said no."
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- "Tomorrow's World: A Horizon Special". BBC Two. 11 April 2013.
- "BBC2 – Operation Snow Tiger". BBC Two. 16 June 2013.
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- "Who Do You Think You Are? Liz Bonnin's past really is another country: review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
- Mccarthy, Fiona (2016-01-23). "Emotional ties with BBC wildlife presenter Liz Bonnin". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- John Meagher Twitter Email (2016-05-15). "Former RTE star Liz Bonnin on choosing science over celebrity: 'FHM offered me a spread but I said no'". Independent.ie. Retrieved 2016-12-09.