Vanessa Collingridge

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Vanessa Jane Collingridge[1] (born 12 January 1968)[2][3] is a British author and broadcaster.

Early life and education[edit]

Youngest of the five children of Gordon Ernest Collingridge (1926-2007)[4] and his wife Irene (born Irene Keeping), Collingridge was born and brought up in Woking, Surrey in England. She read Geography at Hertford College, Oxford, where she earned a first class MA in 1990,[5] despite contracting viral encephalitis in her second year which caused an almost fatal swelling of her brain.[6] It was also at Oxford that she met her husband Allan Watt.[7]


After graduating, Collingridge moved immediately to a career in television, first as a question checker on game shows Wheel of Fortune and Win, Lose or Draw, and then for 14 months as a weathergirl on BBC Scotland.[6] In the early to mid-1990s she appeared from time to time on BBC television's Gardeners' World. She has since worked as a producer and presenter on all five British national terrestrial television channels, as well as BBC national radio.[5]

In 2000 she quit her job as a television presenter on Tonight with Trevor McDonald to author two biographies, one of 18th-century explorer James Cook and one of Celtic warrior queen Boudica.[7] During her research for the former, she discovered she shared ancestry with controversial Australian writer and illustrator George Collingridge, who asserted in 1895 that Australia was discovered by the Portuguese.[7][8][9]

She has described her very early interest in feminism in the introduction to her book on Boudica in 2005: "What started as a strong-willed desire for independence became a fully-fledged, bra-burning (if only I had been old enough to wear one) mentality... Certainly, I cannot remember a time when I wasn't acutely aware of the inherently political nature of woman's position in society and — much to my father's disgust and my now extreme embarrassment — by the grand old age of twelve, I would proudly read Cosmopolitan magazine and proclaim myself a feminist!"[10]

She returned to television in 2007 as writer and narrator of the four-part miniseries Captain Cook: Obsession and Discovery.[11]

Family life[edit]

Collingridge has lived in Scotland since 1989, and resides in a converted farmhouse on the shore of Castle Semple Loch near Lochwinnoch with her husband Alan Watt, and sons Archie, Angus, Finn and Dougal.[6][7][12] In 2017 she completed her PhD in historical cartography at the University of Glasgow, having worked as a broadcaster for BBC Radio Scotland's Buried Treasure and BBC Radio 4's Making History whilst studying.[1][5][6][13]


  • Cook: Obsession and Betrayal in the New World (2002), Ebury Press, ISBN 0-09-187913-2
  • Boudica (2005), Ebury Press, ISBN 0-09-189819-6