Imperial College London

Celebrated Christmas Lectures previewed at Imperial’s White City Campus


Two young people watching the Christmas Lectures at White City

White City residents got a preview of the Royal Institution’s famous Christmas Lectures as they were broadcast live at The Invention Rooms.

It is the first time that the lectures have been streamed live in their 184 year history.

Child at the Christmas lecturesThe Royal Institution’s annual Christmas Lectures, which have been a festive tradition for since 1825, are the longest running science communication series in the world.

Each year, the lectures take a different theme and an expert in the field delivers the presentations at the Royal Institution’s lecture theatre in Mayfair. The lectures are recorded, and broadcast over Christmas for families across the UK to enjoy.

The Christmas Lectures became the first science programme to be shown on national television when they were broadcast by the BBC in 1936, and have since become a mainstay of Christmas television.

Who am I?

The 2018 Lectures are presented by anthropologist, author and TV presenter Professor Alice Roberts and geneticist Professor Aiofe McLysaght, who explore our evolutionary story to reveal how we became who we are today in lectures titled ‘Who am I?’

Colin McClure talking to the audience
Dr Colin McClure talking to the audience

This year the lectures were streamed live for the first time at select locations across the UK, including The Invention Rooms at Imperial’s White City Campus.

White City residents and local schoolchildren gathered in the recently opened Interaction Zone to watch Lecture Three, which unpicks the complex genetic variation that makes humans unique and how new technology is impacting our understanding of the genome.

The Imperial College London event was hosted by Dr Colin McClure, Strategic Teaching Fellow from the College’s Department of Life Sciences, who supplemented the lecture with hands-on demonstrations and experiments as the lecture was beamed in. 

ChristmasProfessor Maggie Dallman, Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships) at Imperial College London said: “Imperial has always been deeply rooted in London life. We are committed to inspiring the public, engaging with our local community, and bringing our research into the real world. The Invention Rooms are bringing new and exciting opportunities for the public to come together with our academic community to imagine, make and learn. We are proud to present this unique event as part of our public engagement programme at White City.”

Gail Cardew, Director of Science and Education at the Royal Institution, said: “This marks an exciting development for the Royal Institution and the Christmas Lectures and fits well with our objective to give as many people as possible the opportunity to discover, discuss and critically examine science.

“The fact we are able to put on these events demonstrates the enduring appeal of the Christmas Lectures and the power of science to inspire and engage.

All three lectures will be available to watch on BBC Four between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Community Space

The Interaction Zone cafeThe Invention Rooms, which launched last year, is a unique community and innovation space in White City. It offers local people the opportunity to access workshops, cutting edge design studios and interactive spaces to help them turn their ideas into a reality.

The Interaction Zone, which is the most recent facility to open at The Invention Rooms, is a welcoming space where the local community can take part in free hands-on activities, classes, tours, or relax over a cup of coffee.

The flexible facilities include a community garden and outside terrace, a brand new café, and space for vibrant exhibitions, displays and events.



Deborah Evanson

Deborah Evanson
Communications and Public Affairs

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