Vanessa Collingridge

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Vanessa Collingridge is an author and broadcaster.

Early life and education[edit]

She is the youngest of five children born and brought up in Woking in Surrey, England. She studied Geography at Hertford College, Oxford, where she earned a first class MA in 1990,[1] despite contracting viral encephalitis in her second year which caused an almost fatal swelling of her brain.[2] It was also at Oxford that she met her husband Alan Watt.[3]


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.[2] 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.[1]

In 2000 she quit her television presenter's job on Tonight with Trevor McDonald to author two biographies, one of 18th century explorer James Cook and one of Celtic warrior queen Boudica.[3] 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.[3][4][5]

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!"[6]

She returned to television in 2007 as writer and narrator of the four-part miniseries Captain Cook: Obsession and Discovery.[7]

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 and Finn.[2][3][8] As of 2009 she is studying to complete her PhD in historical cartography at the University of Glasgow, while working as a broadcaster for BBC Radio Scotland's Buried Treasure and BBC Radio 4's Making History.[1][2][9][10]