Comedian Robin Ince wins Science Journalism award

Despite not being either a scientist or a journalist, Robin Ince was honoured for his work introducing a younger audience to science subjects

Robin Ince, co-presenter of the highly successful BBC Radio 4 popular science programme The Infinite Monkey Cage, is the winner of the University of Northampton’s annual Crick Science Journalism award.

Strictly speaking, Robin is neither a scientist nor a journalist – he’s a comedian. However, as a writer, entertainer and commentator, Robin has done as much as anyone in the UK to bring scientific issues and subjects to a wider and younger audience.

In accepting the award Robin indicated how much he enjoys making science entertaining for audiences: ‘I have had so much fun making and touring shows about science that it seems excessive that I should get something like this too. I feel very honoured to receive the award.’

The Crick Science Journalism award is presented annually by the University of Northampton to the writer or journalist who has presented a scientific issue effectively to a lay audience. It is named after the Nobel Laureate Francis Crick who was born and educated in Northampton.

Previous winners are Tom Clarke, Science Editor of Channel 4 News and Tulip Mazumdar, global health correspondent for the BBC.

In presenting this award, the University is not only recognising Robin’s work on the Infinite Monkey Cage (winner of the 2011 Sony award for best speech programme) but also his other science-based initiatives. Notable among these is the Incomplete Map of the Cosmic Genome, an online video-based science magazine and archive, as well as his annual science-based Christmas show Nine Lessons for Godless People which features comedy and music as well as contributions from leading figures such as Richard Dawkins and psychiatrist Ben Goldacre.

Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of the University, said: “We are pleased to acknowledge Robin’s wide-ranging contribution to the popularisation of science.  His ability to combine comedy and scientific commentary is unique.”

Robin has received many other prizes and honours. In 2006 he won the Time Out Award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy.  And although he graduated in 1991 with a degree in English and Drama from Royal Holloway, University of London, his alma mater recognised his scientific work by making him an Honorary Doctor of Science in 2014. 

He talked about his love of science in a recent interview: “There are a lot of intelligent, well-read comedians out there who are interested in science and who want to share their passions,” he said.

Robin will be presented with the 2016 Crick Science Journalism Award on Friday 14 October at 2 p.m. at a special event for science and journalism students at Newton Grand Hall, Avenue Campus. That evening he will be on the stage at the Royal and Derngate, Northampton, with his co-host physicist Brian Cox in their touring show, Brian Cox Live. 

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