Most of my time is spent writing and teaching, but my first book, Medical London, was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week in 2008, and since then I’ve done quite a bit of radio and TV. At the moment I’m historical consultant for Quacks, a new BBC comedy series written by James Wood (writer of Rev.) and Matt Baynton (star of Horrible Histories), which should be airing in spring / summer 2017. Some other recent highlights: Kevin Fong interviewed me for ‘The Split Second Decision’, a BBC Radio 4 documentary on emergency medicine; Matthew Sweet interviewed me about The Smile Stealers on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking; I talked about John Snow and cholera in an episode of France 2’s ‘Aventures de Médecine’ and an episode of PBS’s ‘The Crowd & The Cloud’; and I was a major contributor to China Central TV’s ‘200 Years of Surgery’ .
Going back a little further, I appeared alongside BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner in an episode of BBC1’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’; I was a major contributor to BBC4’s ‘The Beauty of Anatomy’ and BBC Radio 3’s ‘A Cultural History of the Plague’; I discussed plague and public health on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Shakespeare’s Restless World’; I talked about mad-houses, bodysnatching and Victorian prisons in three episodes of Channel 4’s Time Team; I helped the actress Lesley Joseph discover her family’s connection with Bedlam in ITV’s Secrets From The Asylum; I presented an episode of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s ‘The Gilded Vectors of Disease’ on the art, science and history of the bedbug; I argued about Freud, zombies and monastic melancholy on several episodes of Resonance FM’s ‘The Thread’; I waded through the sewers of Clapham for two episodes of Resonance FM’s ‘Tunnel Vision’; I spoke about the history of heart surgery on the Guardian science podcast, and in two films made at the Royal Institution on the past, present and future of heart transplant and intensive care.
Recently I’ve been working more and more in new media. I collaborated with Joanna Rahim of the Galton Lab on Medical London, the first medical history iPhone app, based on one of my guided walks. During my Engagement Fellowship I also ran the Sick City Project – a multimedia exploration of health and disease in London’s history, with a blog, podcasts, and a walks app (click here if you’re looking at this on a smartphone or tablet, here if you’re on a laptop or desktop).
As well as appearing in front of a camera or behind a microphone, I’ve also advised on many projects: BBC documentaries on Harley Street, the history of the NHS, and life in a medieval village; the BBC2 drama ‘Born and Bred’; the restoration of a rare mid-nineteenth-century operating theatre at Peterborough Museum; and Emma George’s award-winning Around the World in 80 Orgasms. In 2014 I was historical consultant for the Gingersnap Adventures app game ‘Medical Detectives Mission’ – an app designed for grandparents & grandchildren to use together, and telling the story of John Snow’s work on cholera in Victorian Soho.
In 2009 I was a judge for the inaugural Wellcome Book Prize, and I write ‘Case Histories’ – a monthly column on the history of disease for the Lancet. I’m also working with Sophie Churchill on the Corpse Project, a new Wellcome-funded initiative to encourage debate around the options for our bodies after death.