ARCHAEOLOGIST, historian, author and presenter of the TV series Coast, Neil Oliver, is set to share his love of Great Britain and Ireland with audiences at the Wycombe Swan this month.

Neil first took to the stage with The Story of The British Isles in 100 places in 2018 with a 38-date tour - but due to overwhelming demand, the tour has been extended, and he will be visiting the High Wycombe theatre on November 18.

He was inspired to go on tour with the new show after seeing a flyer for a show by Ray Mears.

He said: “My wife said to me, ‘Why don’t you do a show like that?’ I’ve done lots of book tours and festivals before, and I began to think that the book that had been commissioned from me, The Story of The British Isles in 100 Places, would lend itself particularly well to a tour of Britain. So I decided to do it, and now I’m really excited about it.”

So how did he go about selecting just 100 places to feature in his book and show?

“Writing is 50 per cent of what I do, and I’m always thinking about the next book,” he said.

“Over the last 20 years, TV has taken me on a very unusual tour of Britain. As well as iconic places such as the White Cliffs of Dover, Edinburgh and Cardiff, I’ve gone to unexpected, remote places that take quite a lot of getting to.

“They are places that people have never heard of. So I’d become aware that an idiosyncratic chronology of the British Isles had formed in my head.

“I had seen everything from very early human settlements around Happisburgh, where there are footprints from 800,000 years ago, through the Stone and Metal Ages to sites connected to great moments from a more modern era.

“I thought I could easily choose 100 places – in fact, I could have chosen 500. I realised there was a story to be told from very early to modern times by introducing people to these places.”

It is hardly a surprise that Neil finds it difficult to choose just one favourite place from all those he has visited.

He said: “That is very hard because there are so many places in the British Isles that I love.

“For instance, Iona is somewhere I’ve been a lot over the years, and I love it. It’s a great centre of Christianity, but beyond that it’s a very spiritual place because of the look of it.

“It’s a little island with a beautiful shape. It has turquoise seas, pink rocks and a wonderful abbey that dates back many centuries. It’s a lovely, relaxing place to be.

“I love Avebury. I was taken there as an archaeology student in my teens, and I’ve visited it many times since. Whatever you think magic is, there is magic in Avebury.

“There is something there that just lets your imagination run free.

“It makes you think differently about the world. It’s a very special place. I also love St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. It’s a splendid site that has all these amazing legends about giants and dragons associated with it.”

Neil is also passing on his passion for history to his three children. He lives in Stirling with his kids and his wife - a journalist he met while they were both at the University of Glasgow. He studied archaeology.

He said: “As a family, we’re always going to places of historical interest. We live in Stirling, the site of a great deal of history.

“In Stirling, we had the Jacobite Rebellion, William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots and James I of England.

“The kids hear a lot about all that.”

The TV star is also relishing meeting his fans face-to-face during his tour.

“People always ask me really interesting questions,” he said.

“They ask me, ‘What’s your favourite place? What period of history would you go back to if you had a time machine? And who would you invite to a dinner party?’

“But the great thing is, the questions can be about literally anything. I’m not a specialist – I’m not just talking about the six wives of Henry VIII. In the show, I’ll be talking about anything that has happened in the last million years – quite a big subject.

“Whether you’re rich or poor, educated or not, everybody is interested in history. It’s the stuff people talk about. It’s why we are the way we are.”

However he has admitted he is nervous about performing live.

He said: “People make the assumption that if you’re on television, you’re used to being looked at. I don’t deal with an audience in my TV work.

“I’m just with a cameraman, a soundman and a director. So the prospect of public speaking, always makes me nervous – just as you’d be nervous about making a best man’s speech.

“The tour is exciting, but nerve-racking. It’s the agony of anticipation, but I know it will ultimately be really enjoyable.

“I take great pleasure in telling stories, and I can’t wait to share them with people.”

Neil brings The Story of The British Isles to the Wycombe Swan on November 18.

For tickets, go online to or call the theatre’s ticket office on 01494 512 000.