Toby Murcott trained as a biochemist, spending seven years in the laboratory probing the intricacies of the enzyme pyruvate kinase, gaining a doctorate in the process and teaching biochemistry to medical students. Then in 1992 he volunteered for a short-lived but revolutionary radio station – Fem FM in Bristol - and realised he enjoying writing and talking about science much more than doing it. After an initial flirtation with TV he ended up at the BBC Radio Science Unit, producing and presenting programmes across all BBC networks and rising to Science Correspondent for BBC World Service Radio. During this period he manage to squeeze in being Science Editor for Maxim magazine – science with a ‘lad mags’ twist. Then, for a bit of variety, Toby had a two-year stint as editor of digital satellite science channel Einstein TV, after which he forsook the security of a proper job to go freelance.
As a result of this move, he has written for a variety of publications; consulted for TV companies; spoken at numerous public meetings; chaired debates; taught scientists about working with the media and journalists about working with scientists; and stuck his finger into numerous ‘science communication’ pies. His clients include Pier Productions Ltd, the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Times Newspapers, Celador Productions, the Wellcome Trust, and the British Council. Toby’s first book, The Whole Story – Alternative Medicine on Trial? was published in 2005 to glowing reviews from all shades of the complementary medicine debate.
Today Toby writes regularly for The Times; makes radio programmes for the BBC with Pier Productions; lectures on an MSc in Science Communication at the University of Glamorgan. He continues to speak to anyone who’ll have him, and has a particular interest in how scientific research is used and abused when it reaches the public domain. When not at his keyboard he can be found tending his vegetables, building compost bins, or drifting slowly through woodlands in pursuit of edible mushrooms.
'Turn That Racket Off' [Opens in new window]
"The 2006 Battle of Ideas did what it said on the tin: prejudices were punctured, common wisdom was questioned and original thinking honoured. The saying was coined in Texas, but I suggest that the Battle of Ideas adopts it as the conference motto: ‘sacred cows make the best burgers."
George Brock, Saturday Editor, The Times