Culture vulture

3rd September 2004 at 01:00
Olly Phillipson enthuses about sci-fi, king penguins and geography

Best book

I'm a sci-fi person. I started with John Wyndham and The Day of the Triffids when I was young, but I'm now a devotee of Terry Pratchett. I don't go around making signs like some Discworld fans, but I lovethe humour and the fact that he appeals to kids and adults.

Best film ever

I've seen Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, pictured) three or four times and I like that it operates on various levels, and the open quality of the ending. You can read lots into it, but it can be watched for what it is, great entertainment.


I travel a lot and listen mainly to classical music en route, especially classical piano. I'm listening to "Le Onde" and "(I) Giorno" by the pianistcomposer Ludovico Einaudi. My father was a professional saxophonist playing for dance bands and at the London Palladium; my brother was a sound engineer for the BBC - he worked on Dr Who - and helped me make soundtracks to the slide shows I've put together from field trips.

Treat in store

Going back to Antarctica (I went on an expedition cruise a few years ago), and getting as far as South Georgia. As I didn't get down there and as it's where Shackleton ended up I feel I must go. I want to see the king penguins because they make me smile and are the only penguins I haven't seen in the wild and photographed. I take thousands of photos on trips and have created a huge archive, which is a fantastic resource.

To share with pupils

I want to encourage students to make better use of geographical literature: books on travel and wildlife, written from fascinating cultural viewpoints.

I'm series editor of Geotext, a key stage 3 geography textbook series designed to give an appreciation of the wealth of literature and to encourage a questioning approach.

Olly Phillipson, 51, writes geography textbooks and for the past four years has worked on the subscription website for teachers, Geography Online. She returns to the classroom this week at Tollbar Business and Enterprise college, North-east Lincolnshire. She was talking to Elaine Williams

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