One of the great pleasures of holding a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowship is that it enables me to take part in a huge range of engagement work. This week alone has included three guided walks (for Regent’s College and ICL students, and American historians), a seminar on the history of medicine for Wellcome Collection staff, preparation for this weekend’s panel discussion on medical ethics at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, and – most exciting of all – a morning’s filming for Time Team with Tony Robinson.
Having watched the very first episode of this British TV institution at the impressionable age of twelve, it was a serious thrill to be taking part in a programme made in the show’s twentieth year. This episode will follow an excavation at the Victorian prison in Lincoln, but we filmed my interview (on gaol fever and the miasmatic theory of disease) in the magnificent and spooky setting of the Old Yarn Store at the Chatham Historic Dockyard. (And yes, I resisted the (enormous) temptation to refer to Edwin Chadwick’s mid-nineteenth century sanitation reforms as ‘a cunning plan’.)