Neil Oliver

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Neil Oliver
Neil Oliver at Windsor Quay (cropped).jpg
Oliver in 2006
Born (1967-02-21) 21 February 1967 (age 54)
Renfrew, Scotland, UK[1]
CitizenshipBritish
OccupationTelevision presenter
Author
Years active2002–present
Websitewww.neiloliver.com

Neil Oliver (born 21 February 1967) is a Scottish television presenter and author. He is best known as the presenter of several documentary series on archaeology and history, including A History of Scotland, Vikings, and Coast. He is also an author of popular history books and historical fiction.

He was the president of the National Trust for Scotland from 2017 to 2020.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Oliver was born in Renfrew[4][5] and grew up in Ayr and Dumfries where he attended Dumfries Academy. He then attended the University of Glasgow. He obtained an MA (Hons) in archaeology and then worked as a freelance archaeologist, before training as a journalist.[6]

He received honorary degrees from Abertay University in 2011[7] and the University of Glasgow in 2015.[8]

Television career[edit]

Oliver first appeared on television in the 2002 BBC Two series Two Men in a Trench, in which he and archaeologist Tony Pollard visited historic British battlefields. He was also a co-author of the two books accompanying the series. In 2006, he presented The Face of Britain for Channel 4 and Scotland's History: The Top Ten for the BBC. Early in his career he also appeared on The One Show and Time Team.

Oliver was a co-presenter of the first series of Coast in 2005, and replaced Nicholas Crane as the show's main presenter for the second, third, fourth, and fifth series. He also presented Coast Australia (2013) and Coast New Zealand (2016).

From 2006 to 2018 he presented a number of history documentaries for the BBC, including A History of Scotland (2008) and Sacred Wonders of Britain (2013). In 2012, he wrote and presented Vikings, a three-part series on the Vikings.

In April 2021, he was announced as a presenter for the new GB News' TV channel, founded by fellow Scot and journalist Andrew Neil. Oliver hosts a weekly current affairs and interview programme.[9]

Personal life[edit]

He lives in Stirling[10] with his wife, three children and two Irish wolfhounds.[11][12] He is a patron of the Association of Lighthouse Keepers.[13]

In November 2011, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Abertay Dundee.[14]

Politics[edit]

In May 2014, Oliver stated in an interview with The Herald, that he was "proud of Britain" and noted his dislike of the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum saying that "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".[15] When he was appointed President of the National Trust for Scotland, thousands signed petitions calling on him to resign.[16]

In June 2020, in the midst of a row about his admiration for the historian David Starkey, Neil Oliver announced he was resigning from the National Trust for Scotland board.[17] However, Oliver pointed out that he was "stepping down 'as intended' when his three year term in the role comes to an end in September [2020]." The National Trust for Scotland also dismissed claims that Oliver endorsed Starkey's controversial comments as "untrue".[17]

In December 2020, Oliver reasserted his personal opposition to Scottish independence, describing the uncertainty caused by the prospect of a second referendum as a "cancerous presence" and that "I'm a British citizen, that's how I see myself. Not in an argumentative way, I don't see that I should have to cede my right to understand myself as I am to some politician."[18]

Commenting on the British government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, on 11 June 2021 Oliver said, "Lockdown is the biggest single mistake in world history".[19] He also criticised the drive to vaccinate children in the UK against COVID-19, saying, "Never before in medical history has there been a proposal to vaccinate children against a disease that poses them no measurable harm. Added to this is the undeniable fact these vaccines for COVID are experimental, in that no data is available concerning long term effects."[20] He likened the fight against government anti-COVID measures to the fight against Nazi Germany, saying, "there's another battle of Britain being fought now. It's being fought by a minority outgunned and shouted down by those who would accept freedom handed to them by MPs on condition that they do as they are told. That's not freedom. That is tyranny."[21]

Oliver's opposition to coronavirus restrictions led to him leaving the unionist campaign group These Islands. Tom Holland, an advisory board member of These Islands, said that Oliver's "current focus was not compatible with our own".[22]

Works[edit]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2002–2004 Two Men in a Trench Presenter
2005–2010 Coast Presenter Lead presenter, series 2–5
2006 The Face of Britain
2006 Time Team "Big Royal Dig" episode
2007 The One Show
2007 The History Detectives
2008 A History of Scotland Presenter[23]
2009 Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer Presenter
2011 A History of Ancient Britain Presenter[24]
2011 A History of Celtic Britain Presenter
2011 The Last Explorers Presenter Documentary series about four Scottish explorers: David Livingstone, William Speirs Bruce, John Muir, and Thomas Blake Glover.
2012 Vikings Writer
Presenter
2013 Sacred Wonders of Britain Presenter
2013–2015 Coast Australia Presenter
2015 Britain's Deadliest Rail Disaster: Quintinshill Presenter Documentary about the 1915 Quintinshill rail disaster.
2015 The Celts: Blood, Iron and Sacrifice Presenter[25]
2016 Coast New Zealand Presenter
2016 Scotland and the Clan Presenter
2016 Robot Wars Contestant[26]
2017 Britain's Ancient Capital: Secrets of Orkney Presenter
2018 Rise of the Clans Presenter[27]

Books[edit]

  • Wisdom of the Ancients (2020)
  • The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places (2018)
  • 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)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Neil Oliver on history, housewives and hair". The Herald. 19 September 2011. Archived from the original on 19 October 2011.
  2. ^ "TV historian takes on conservation role". BBC News. 30 September 2017. Archived from the original on 28 December 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2020 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  3. ^ Bradley, Jane (6 July 2020). "Neil Oliver to step down from National Trust for Scotland role days after Twitter row". The Scotsman. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Neil Oliver to join GB News: 'It feels like opening a window and letting in some fresh air'". HeraldScotland.
  5. ^ September 2018, Ayrshire Magazine 11th (11 September 2018). "Neil Oliver".
  6. ^ "Passed/failed: An education in the life of Neil Oliver, archaeologist". The Independent. 13 November 2008. Archived from the original on 12 April 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  7. ^ "Neil Oliver". Abertay. 2 June 2019. Archived from the original on 4 July 2021. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  8. ^ "University of Glasgow :: Story :: Biography of Neil Oliver". www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 4 July 2021. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  9. ^ "Neil Oliver to join GB News: 'It feels like opening a window and letting in some fresh air'". HeraldScotland. Archived from the original on 20 April 2021. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  10. ^ The Sarah Millican Television Programme, 12 February 2013[better source needed]
  11. ^ Oliver, Neil. "Wookiee wolfhounds stop lockdown life being abominable" – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  12. ^ A Life in the Day: Neil Oliver – Times Online[dead link]
  13. ^ "Association of Lighthouse Keepers - Keeping Lighthouse Heritage Alive". Association of Lighthouse Keepers. Archived from the original on 24 October 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  14. ^ Tel: +44 (0)1382 308000 Ask a question (25 September 2009). "2012 | University of Abertay Dundee". Abertay.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 22 November 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  15. ^ "Neil Oliver on the search for the site of the Battle of Bannockburn". HeraldScotland. Archived from the original on 4 July 2021. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  16. ^ "Video: Hundreds back call to remove "divisive" Unionist TV star as National Trust for Scotland president". HeraldScotland. Archived from the original on 5 April 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  17. ^ a b "Neil Oliver to step down from National Trust for Scotland role days after Twitter row". www.scotsman.com. Archived from the original on 6 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Neil Oliver calls Scottish independence 'a backwards step' that would 'infringe his human rights'". HeraldScotland. Archived from the original on 27 January 2021. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  19. ^ "Neil Oliver: 'Lockdown is the biggest single mistake in world history'". HeraldScotland. Archived from the original on 22 June 2021. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  20. ^ The Herald, "Covid: Neil Oliver tells GB News viewers giving children vaccine is 'grotesque'", 5 July 2021
  21. ^ "Anger as Scots broadcaster Neil Oliver states he would 'cheerfully risk catching Covid' in name of freedom". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  22. ^ Nachiappan, Arthi (30 November 2021). "Anti-mask historian Neil Oliver quits pro-UK group". The Times. Retrieved 30 November 2021.
  23. ^ "BBC - Press Office - Celebrating Scotland's History". www.bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  24. ^ "BBC Two - A History of Ancient Britain, Series 1, Age of Ice". Archived from the original on 11 February 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  25. ^ "BBC Two - the Celts: Blood, Iron and Sacrifice with Alice Roberts and Neil Oliver". Archived from the original on 8 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  26. ^ "Robbie Savage, Suzi Perry and the Brownlee brothers join Robot Wars: Battle of the Stars line-up". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  27. ^ "A new telling of an old favourite". HeraldScotland. Archived from the original on 23 February 2019. Retrieved 22 February 2019.

External links[edit]