Vice Chancellor’s cunning plan on volcanoes

Date 11.11.2015

The Vice Chancellor was featured alongside actor, comedian and broadcaster, Tony Robinson, in Birth of Britain [Channel 4, Monday 17 January at 8pm]. The programme can be seen on Channel 4 On Demand at

The new series, presented by Tony Robinson, charts the epic story of how Britain was formed and how the earth beneath our feet has shaped the country we live in today.

Professor Petford is widely known for his expertise in volcanoes and the engineering properties of rock. His research embraces field investigations and mathematical modelling in molten rock flows on earth and other planets.

Talking about filming for Birth of Britain, Nick explained: “This was a great opportunity to contribute to a national television programme, while helping highlight some of the research expertise available at The University of Northampton.

“In particular Tony and I discussed how Hadrian’s Wall took strategic advantage of the high, rocky cliff lines formed by Great Whin Sill, which is made from volcanic rock 300 million years old.

“While we were in Northumberland for filming, there were also a few ‘cunning plan’ jokes between takes referencing Tony’s prior role as Baldrick in Blackadder. This was the second time he’d worked with the University, having visited the University for CH4 in 2009 when he interviewed Dr Richard Broughton about parapsychology experiments in a programme about author Dan Brown.”

Nick became Vice Chancellor of The University of Northampton in September 2010 and has made previous contributions on volcanoes with appearances on Sky News, BBC TV and Radio, and Richard and Judy. Earlier last year he was flown to Iceland during the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano to front another Channel 4 documentary,The Volcano That Stopped The World.