CHRISTMAS LECTURES: the inside story

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Friday 10 November

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place


Standard £16


Concession £10


Ri Members and Ri Patrons Free

Event description

To celebrate the launch of 11 Explorations into life on Earth, join author Helen Scales, Ri historian Frank James, alongside 2004 Lecturer Lloyd Peck and 2017 Lecturer Sophie Scott in conversation with Dallas Campbell for the inside story on the CHRISTMAS LECTURES. Hear about how the Lectures first started and how famous names such as David Attenborough and Richard Dawkins presented their work. And then get the inside track on the laughter and tears involved in their annual production in the Ri’s historic theatre and experience what it's like to stand on stage to deliver the world’s most famous scientific lectures. The event is free for all Ri Members and Ri Patrons. Copies of 11 Explorations into life on Earth will be available for sale after the event.

About the speakers

Helen Scales is a marine biologist, broadcaster and writer, appearing regularly on BBC Radio 4, Sky News and the BBC World Service. She is also scientific advisor to the charity Sea Changers, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a tutor at the University of Cambridge. Her most recent book, Spirals in Time, was chosen as a book of the year by the GuardianThe Times and the Economist, and as Book of the Week on Radio 4.

Frank James is Professor of of History of Science and Head of Collections and Heritage at the Royal Institution. His main research has been editing the Correspondence of Michael Faraday which is now complete in six volumes. He is currently writing a book on Humphry Davy’s practical work, having always had a strong interest in the relations of science with other areas of society and culture, such as the military, art (where he co-authored a book on the scientific and technological content of paintings in the National Gallery), religion and technology.

Lloyd Peck is a scientist at the forefront of investigation into animal adaptations in extreme environments at the British Antarctic Survey. He leads a dedicated, innovative team of polar biologists evaluating how species live in the coldest, driest, windiest, most isolated place on earth. He gave the 2004 CHRISTMAS LECTURES.

Sophie Scott is group leader of the speech communication neuroscience group at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London. She will give the 2017 CHRISTMAS LECTURES: The language of life


Dallas Campbell is an actor, author and TV presenter. He has filmed in some of the most extraordinary and challenging locations all over the world: sewer diving in Mexico City, abseiling off the world’s tallest building in Dubai and filming Tim Peake’s rocket launch to the international space station, but he has always been fascinated by space. He was also an understudy for the 2014 CHRISTMAS LECTURES: How to hack your home and appeared via hologram in the final show.

About the book

Following on from the success of 13 Journeys through space and time, which took us on a voyage of astronomical discovery through past CHRISTMAS LECTURES on space and space exploration, 11 Explorations into life on Earth turns our attention to our own planet and the animals, plants, fish, insects and all the other living things that inhabit it – how they've evolved and the vital roles they play in the intricate webs of life on earth.

Taking eleven of the most exciting and revealing CHRISTMAS LECTURES on the natural world given at the Royal Institution, including Sir David Attenborough's animal-packed Lectures from 1977 and Richard Dawkins's explosive series on the evolution of life, Helen Scales takes an illuminating look at more than a hundred years of scientific exploration to discover the origins of life on our planet and the mysteries so far uncovered.


The doors will open at approximately 6.30pm, with a prompt start at 7.00pm. There will be time for questions after the talk.

Latecomers will be admitted to the gallery.

Ri Member offer

Ri Members, Ri Young Members and Patrons receive 25% off 13 Journeys through space and time and 11 Explorations into life on Earth. For more information please see our member offers section.

Become a member

Benefit from free and better than half-price tickets, special offers and access to the CHRISTMAS LECTURES ticket ballot.

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