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Oliver in 2006
|Born||21 February 1967|
Renfrewshire, Scotland, UK
|Occupation||Television presenter, author, archaeologist|
Neil Oliver (born 21 February 1967) is a British television presenter, free-lance archaeologist, conservationist and author. He is best known as a presenter of several BBC historical and archaeological documentary series, including A History of Scotland, Vikings and Coast. In 2017 he was appointed president of the National Trust for Scotland. His Scottish accent and long hair are distinguishing features.
Early life and education
Oliver was born in Renfrewshire and grew up in Ayr and Dumfries where he attended Dumfries Academy. He then attended the University of Glasgow to study archaeology. He obtained an MA in archaeology and worked as a free-lance archaeologist, before training as a journalist.
Oliver's television debut came in 2002 with BBC Two's Two Men in a Trench, which featured Oliver and close friend, Tony Pollard, visiting historic British battlefields and recreating the battle situations using state of the art archaeological techniques. In addition to the TV series, Oliver co-wrote the two accompanying books.
In 2005, he wrote a tie-in book for the Channel 4 documentary, Not Forgotten, which was presented by Ian Hislop. Oliver then became the archaeological and social history expert on Coast and in the next series he replaced Nicholas Crane as the show's main presenter and remained as such for the third and fourth series.
In 2006 Oliver appeared in two more documentary series, Channel 4's The Face of Britain and BBC Two's Scotland's History: The Top Ten. In August 2006 he also appeared on the special "Big Royal Dig" edition of Channel 4's Time Team, in which he presented a dig at Holyrood Palace.
Oliver's series A History of Scotland began airing on 9 November 2008 on BBC One Scotland and was broadcast throughout the UK in 2009. The series also has links to radio, online and Open University materials. Like Coast, the programme is a co-production of the BBC and the Open University.
On 23 March 2009, Neil Oliver presented a programme on Cleopatra on BBC One.
In February 2011 he presented A History of Ancient Britain on BBC Two. This was followed later in the year by A History of Celtic Britain. He also provided the voice over for VisitScotland's 2011 television advertisement. Oliver also hosted The Last Explorers, a four-episode series retracing the expeditions of four Scottish explorers (David Livingstone, William Speirs Bruce, John Muir, and Thomas Blake Glover) who planted ideas rather than flags, that screened on BBC for four weeks from 24 November 2011.
Oliver presented the three-part series Vikings 11 September 2012 – 25 September 2012.
In 2015, he presented Britain's Deadliest Rail Disaster: Quintinshill about the Quintinshill rail disaster, which took place in 1915.
Neil Oliver also presented a BBC documentary called Scotland and the Klan, highlighting the Scottish/Northern Irish foundations of the Ku Klux Klan, originally aired in October 2016.
In December 2016, Oliver was involved in episode 2 of the Celebrity Series of Robot Wars, helping create a robot called "Soldier Ant", which he drove with his children. It won one game (on a judges' decision), but lost the other two on knockout and was eliminated.
In 2017, Neil Oliver co-presented BBC 4's 3-part history series Britain's Ancient Capital: Secrets of Orkney. The other presenters were Chris Packham, Andy Torbet, and Shini Somara.
He is a patron of the Association of Lighthouse Keepers.
In May 2014, Oliver stated in an interview with the Herald, that he was "proud of Britain" and noted his dislike of the upcoming Scottish independence referendum saying that he found "this kind of internecine squabbling puts my teeth on edge. I would rather that it would just go away – or that it had never happened." He went on to say that he "liked the status quo." When he was appointed President of the National Trust for Scotland, thousands signed petitions calling on him to resign.
Oliver is a keen supporter of The Green Party, speaking at their party conference in 2016, stating, "Previous governments have neglected our coastlines for far too long; sea erosion is taking away our precious sand year on year and The Green Party, appear to me, the only party who have any intention of replenishing our coastlines with fresh sand before our beaches are lost forever".
- Master of Shadows (2015)
- Vikings (2012)
- A History of Ancient Britain (2011)
- A History of Scotland (2009)
- Amazing Tales for Making Men Out of Boys (2008)
- Coast from the Air (2007)
- Not Forgotten (2006)
- Castles and Forts (with Simon Adams and Tony Pollard) (2006)
- Two Men in a Trench II: Uncovering the Secrets of British Battlefields (with Tony Pollard) (2003)
- Two Men in a Trench: Battlefield Archaeology – The Key to Unlocking the Past (with Tony Pollard) (2002)
- "Neil Oliver on history, housewives and hair". The Herald. 19 September 2011. Archived from the original on 19 October 2011.
- "National Trust for Scotland appoints Neil Oliver as president". BBC. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
- "Coast Australia host Neil Oliver promises more in-depth stories for season two", Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 2015. Accessed 19 March 2015
- "Passed/failed: An education in the life of Neil Oliver, archaeologist and television presenter". The Independent. 13 November 2008.
- BBC – Press Office – Celebrating Scotland's History
- BBC – BBC Two Programmes – A History of Ancient Britain, Series 1, Episode 1
- "eUpdate: New VisitScotland TV advert". VisitScotland. March 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
- "The Celts: Blood, Iron and Sacrifice". BBC. Retrieved 2015-10-09.
- The Sarah Millican Television Programme, 12 February 2013
- A Life in the Day: Neil Oliver – Times Online
- Association of Lighthouse Keepers
- Tel: +44 (0)1382 308000 Ask a question (25 September 2009). "2012 | University of Abertay Dundee". Abertay.ac.uk. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- The Herald (17 May 2014). "Neil Oliver on the search for the site of the Battle of Bannockburn". The Herald. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- Williams, Martin (1 October 2017). "Video: Hundreds back call to remove "divisive" Unionist TV star as National Trust for Scotland president". The Herald. Retrieved 2 October 2017.