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IMG_4470 Tony and Phil

Last week, the museum was pleased to host a talk by Sir Tony Robinson (with a little help from his friends!). Our own Owain Hughes was there and reports back…

Sir Tony has an autobiography out – ‘No Cunning Plan’ – and his talk focused on that, and on his friendship with Sir Terry Pratchett.

He began by describing Sir Terry’s great love of the chalk landscape and invited a certain member of the audience – a great friend of ours, Phil Harding – to explain the origins of this local landscape, and to share a few memories of Time Team digging in it!

Rob Wilkins, Terry’s assistant, business manager and long term friend added to the memories of the writer by describing how the two of them ‘bonded’ – at a book signing when they realised they were both ‘electronic nerds’!

Tony’s links with the writer go back a long way. At an early encounter, Terry was to congratulate Tony on some comedy programmes he had written for Radio Bristol. In subsequent years Tony was to create the audio versions of Terry’s books and played a role, the store manager, in the 2006 film version of Terry’s ‘Hogfather’.

The same year, Tony appeared in Tony Robinson: Me and My Mum, a documentary surrounding his decision to find a nursing home for his mother, and the difficulty he had doing so. In the intervening years he has become a supporter of Alzheimer’s research and charities, which, of course would have been a bond between the two men, as Terry began to suffer himself. When Terry was invited to do the Dimbleby lecture in 2010 he was already struggling with the illness, and while he introduced the lecture, it was Tony who read Terry’s words. It was about death, our attitudes to it and about assisted death. The audience here were very moved when Tony read an abridged version of the lecture at this talk. As indeed visitors have been moved by this aspect of the museum’s exhibition.

Owain shares with us some of the excitement at the end of the talk…


The talk ran over the allotted time and with less than an hour before his train was due to leave, Tony began signing copies of his books for a very long queue of eager fans. He was due to give an interview to the British Forces Broadcasting Service which they managed to do somewhere on the car journey to the station! The next day, he was at the Royal Albert Hall, reading at a carol service.

A busy man. Thank you Sir Tony for your visit and sharing your memories.