Media Appearances

I have appeared on TV, radio and online. Below is a selection of clips and links to videos and radio programmes in which I have featured. They range from early medieval mathematical tricks to an unusual costume for a marathon...

Astrolabes: The Medieval Smartphone?

September 2020

In this short film made for Penguin Books, I demonstrate how to use an astrolabe, and explain its importance in the Middle Ages.

The Light Ages

September 2020

The release of my book The Light Ages aroused some media interest in medieval science.  Have a listen to these clips from the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 (3rd October) and Dan Snow's History Hit podcast.

John Westwyk and his inventions also featured in:

BBC Radio 4 Today - The Light Ages
00:00 / 04:53
History Hit with Dan Snow
00:00 / 19:37

I also appeared in an episode of the comedy podcast Worst Foot Forward, giving hosts Ben Van der Velde & Barry McStay a scenic tour of the Hereford Mappa mundi.  I've also recently appeared on several other podcasts, such as The Medieval Podcast, Gone MedievalInquiring Minds, Hidden Histories, and Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Worst Foot Forward - World's Worst Map.m
00:00 / 1:17:55

Free Thinking: Hands and the History of Science

June 2016

My first appearance on the BBC was a research 'postcard' for the Radio 3 programme Free Thinking.  While in the studio, I demonstrated some medieval finger-counting for the producers!

My demonstration was featured as one of "3 things we love" on the front page of the BBC website the following day.

3 things we love BBC website Seb Falk

Click to enlarge

Click here to watch my demonstration on the BBC website.

In June 2020, BBC Mundo interviewed me about finger-counting for their Spanish-language channel.  They published a web article - "La ingeniosa manera en la que lograban contar hasta 9.999 con los dedos en la Edad Media".  For their piece, I re-recorded the video above in Spanish!  You can watch it near the bottom of the article.

Exploring the Mariner's Astrolabe

June 2017

This short film was made for the BBC Arts website. It was filmed on location at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, my rickety shed, and on the River Orwell on the windiest day of the winter.

Directors: Trudy Shillum & Ryan McKenna

Click here to watch the complete film on the BBC website.

London Marathon wind worry for Cambridge Gherkin Man

April 2014

In 2014 I ran the London Marathon inside an 8-foot tall, 10 kg papier-mâché model of London's 30 St Mary Axe, a.k.a. "The Gherkin".

I raised over £14,000 for the Cure Parkinson's Trust, and was described as "downright silly" on the BBC News at Ten.

This film appeared on BBC Look East in the week before the marathon. 

The World inside a Spanish Globe

December 2012

A little research project I did for my master's degree made the news in several countries after it was featured in a Cambridge University film.

My research showed how interactive toys like this globe helped reform stuffy methods of education around the year 1900. 

The Essay and Free Thinking, BBC Radio 3


I have made two programmes for the Radio 3 series The Essay. Both were produced by Jacqueline Smith.

I have also appeared on the Radio 3 programme Free Thinking:

and I made a Sunday feature about medieval and modern pandemics: