Magazine article Geographical

Charlotte Uhlenbroek: Q & A: Having Worked with Jane Goodall and Her Chimpanzees in Tanzania, Zoologist Charlotte Uhlenbroek Then Rose Swiftly through the Ranks at the BBC's Natural History Unit. Christian Amodeo Talks to Her about Her Life, and Her Latest Project, Talking to Animals, Which Is Set to Make Her a Household Name. (in Conversation)

Magazine article Geographical

Charlotte Uhlenbroek: Q & A: Having Worked with Jane Goodall and Her Chimpanzees in Tanzania, Zoologist Charlotte Uhlenbroek Then Rose Swiftly through the Ranks at the BBC's Natural History Unit. Christian Amodeo Talks to Her about Her Life, and Her Latest Project, Talking to Animals, Which Is Set to Make Her a Household Name. (in Conversation)

Article excerpt

When did you first travel overseas?

I was born in London but taken to Ghana when I was just ten days old, as my father worked for a branch of the UN. When I was five years old we moved back to the UK briefly before going to Nepal.

What kind of schooling did you receive?

In Kathmandu I went to an American school, and at the age of 12 was sent to boarding school in Yorkshire. I was always eager to get back to Kathmandu in the holidays, though I did love the moors. I ran away once but I was retrieved quite quickly.

Was it always your ambition to become a TV presenter?

Not exactly, no. I studied zoology and psychology at Bristol University. After graduating, I worked briefly at the BBC Natural History Unit as a researcher, until I heard through a mutual friend that Jane Goodall was looking for someone to conduct research. We were in a bar at the time and I left my pint on the table and called her straight away.

What kind of work did you do with Jane Goodall?

I spent ten months in Burundi on a conservation project. The chimps have very little forest cover due to logging. I then moved to Gombe National Park, Tanzania, to work with habituating chimpanzees. I did research for my zoology PhD while I was there, studying the animals' communication methods.

How did you make the jump to television?

I worked as a scientific advisor for several film crews while I was in Africa, and appeared in Jonathan Scott's programme about Gombe. I came back to Britain to write up my research and the BBC contacted me about filming Chimpanzee Diary in Gombe. Being a skint student I jumped at the chance. I'd never presented a TV programme before but it was easy for me in that I was talking about chimps that I knew personally, so talking to the camera was like showing a friend around. I'm sure that people don't mind slightly ropey presenting so long as the presenter knows what they're talking about. …

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