Fuelled by her passion for environmental causes, biochemist and TV presenter Liz Bonnin has no time for world leaders who won’t listen. She chats with Carl Marsh.
You’re doing the Blue Planet II tour. Was it your ultimate goal to do something like this?
The more that I think about it now I’m doing press for it, the more I realise what an absolute dream job it is. There’s a 74-piece orchestra [City Of Prague Philharmonic, conducted by Matthew Freeman] with music written by an absolute genius, Hans Zimmer. I think it’s going to be a very special and unique experience. What I’m looking forward to more than anything is how we’re all going to be connected in that celebration of wildlife.
What are you going to bring to the show?
My role is really to take the audience by the hand and contextualise each theme. I really want the music, the visuals and the sequences to work their magic, and to keep the talking to a minimum. I do want to add my experience to it. Ultimately, I hope, because of my experiences and my understanding of the natural world, I can bring that into some of the narrative to add another layer of understanding and appreciation.
You mentioned music there – weren’t you in a girl group back in the day called Chill?
Oh gosh, yes. I was young and playing at being a popstar.
How did you go from that to presenting Rise on Channel 4?
At that point, I was supposed to do a PhD in neurodegenerative diseases after my biochemistry degree. I knew that I wanted to veer into wildlife conservation and understand how to protect the planet. I took a year out and had been singing in a band. I was very open to just any opportunity. Someone approached me to present a music award show on RTE in Ireland and that led to another thing and another presenting job. Before I knew it, someone from Channel 4 asked if I would like to present a breakfast show in London. I’m really grateful for that experience because what that has resulted in is combining my first love for science and wildlife with this newfound passion for storytelling.
It sounds to me like you’ve always been destined to do what you do. Were you not tempted to sidetrack and go into something else through TV?
It was always academia. I was very mindful that I was ready to go back to academia and I wanted to play a role in protecting our wildlife. That was always the plan.
Do you think enough is being done for the environment by the media?
I don’t think enough is being done at policy and big industry level, that’s for sure. I am under no illusion about where the buck stops. We’ve all got to make our voices heard as individuals. It’s our role to cut through all the fake news, all the nonsense and all the greenwashing. Greta Thunberg was sitting outside parliament in Sweden with a placard by herself a year ago. Now, millions of people are coming together speaking out about how they want change and they want their global leaders to change. Change can happen.
Perhaps I’m being naïve, but I didn’t realise how normal this was – most politicians are funded by corporations. I won’t believe a word any of these politicians say if they’re funded by the very industry that led to the existential crisis. This is the biggest existential crisis that we’re facing in our history and apparently for the fossil fuel industry, it’s business as usual. I’m saying this as a member of the public who can’t understand that this is the way our leaders are deciding to run our world. That’s why I really commend women like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and why I wholeheartedly support the climate strikes. The only way it’s going to stop is through us making our voices heard this way.
This show is now postponed until further notice. Info: 029 2022 4488 / www.motorpointarenacardiff.co.uk