Robyn Williams

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Robyn Williams

Robyn Williams.jpg
Born (1944-01-30) 30 January 1944 (age 77)
OccupationScience journalist, broadcaster

Robyn Williams AO (born 30 January 1944) is a science journalist and broadcaster resident in Australia who has hosted the Science Show on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation since 1975, Ockham's Razor (created 1984) and In Conversation (created 1997).


Williams was born in Buckinghamshire, England, and educated in Vienna and London. He graduated from the University of London with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree. During this period he was active in university acting and, like many other notable students, made guest appearances in BBC series The Goodies, Monty Python's Flying Circus and Doctor Who.

Professional life[edit]

Williams emigrated to Australia and joined the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Science Unit in 1972 where, after several years in background production and interviewing for the Insight program, he hosted Innovations (30 minute format) in early 1974,[1] Investigations (2 hour format) [2] from 6 November 1974, in 1975 he began hosting the Science Show, a one-hour science-based radio interview show.

Ockham's Razor (15-minute format) followed in 1984, with Williams introducing a leading scientist or personality who then expounds from a prepared text on a topic of their choice, with a view to making a subject simple and accessible to the public, hence the title relating to the famous statement on parsimony by William of Ockham. In Conversation (15-minute format) commenced in 1997, with Williams interviewing the personality.

Other media work[edit]

  • Narrating Nature of Australia, a series for ABC TV;
  • Appearing in World Safari with David Attenborough;

At his instigation, the ABC and Australian Museum established the Eureka Awards for Excellence in Science Communication and Innovation.

Trade union activism[edit]

In 1977, Williams gave an impassioned speech to the ABC Staff Association against ABC management's quiescence in the face of budget cuts and political interference. He said that a UK proposal that the government appoint one third of BBC board members had been publicly opposed by BBC management but that the ABC chairman acted as if he headed an organisation rivalling the BBC. Following his speech the meeting voted unanimously that it had no confidence in the ABC chair, John Norgard.[3]

Honorary and subsidiary positions[edit]

He is a visiting professor at the University of New South Wales.

In 2009, Williams joined the council of Voiceless, the animal protection institute.[4]


Williams has written ten books, three of which were used in high school reading lists. His autobiography is And Now For Something Completely Different, a reference to an interview (on psychiatry) with Monty Python star John Cleese. His book, Future Perfect, focuses on cities, transport, communication, education and science.[5] He is the author of a dystopian novel 2007 (published in 2001) describing a rebellion of animals.[6]


Personal life[edit]

Williams is in a long-term relationship with Jonica Newby, a former presenter on ABC Television's Catalyst science journalism program.[11] Williams underwent chemotherapy for colorectal cancer in 2014 and 2015; at one point he was hospitalised for five weeks but continued to make The Science Show from his hospital bed.[11]


  1. ^ "Prof Lovejoy lives", The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, 30 September 1974: 14.
  2. ^ "Anyone can talk science", The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, 28 October 1974: 11.
  3. ^ Molomby, Tom (1991). Is there a moderate on the roof? ABC Years. Port Melbourne: William Heinemann Australia. pp. 97–100.
  4. ^ "Voiceless, the animal protection institute".
  5. ^ "Robyn Williams". Celebrity Speakers.
  6. ^[dead link]
  7. ^ Australian Honours AM
  8. ^ "Past Winners & Finalists (Eureka Prizes)". Australian Museum.
  9. ^ Australian Honours Centenary Medal
  10. ^ Australian Honours AO
  11. ^ a b Newby, Jonica (15 May 2016). "Catalyst - Exercise and Cancer - Transcript". ABC Website. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 May 2016.

External links[edit]