A SCIENTIST filmed working at the Royal Botanic Garden was shocked to be asked to present a new television show.
Sally Eaton, 32, co-stars in Wild Thing, a Channel 4 wildlife series which starts on Monday.
The Edinburgh University graduate had no idea she was being lined up for the show when TV bosses visited the tourist attraction in the Capital last year.
Now she is following in the footsteps of her icon David Attenborough in what she hopes will be a successful career combining biology and television presenting.
She said: “It was so outside my career plan in science and came as a complete shock.
“A TV crew came to the Botanic Gardens and spoke to quite a few people. They asked if I would like to get my research on TV, so I agreed.
“They slyly got a camera out and asked me to film a little piece talking about my research. A few weeks later they rang up and said ‘would you like to present Wild Thing?’
“They said they wanted real-life scientists to present the programme rather than just presenters.
“I’d never considered a career in television before and didn’t jump at it to begin with, but then I thought it was a great opportunity to tell people about what I care about.”
Sally, who also studied for her MSc in plant sciences at the Botanic, started conducting experiments at a young age.
Originally from Lancashire, she would often go on walks over the hills, exploring plants and animals but became fascinated by less obvious creatures when, at ten, she bought a microscope.
“It opened a whole new world to me, a world that you can’t really see.
“I would find things in the carpets like a piece of grit that would look like a diamond when you magnified it. It would feel like I’d found a bit of treasure.
“I would leave a glass of milk behind the curtains, and mum would say ‘Don’t do that, you’ll get mould on it.’ So then I used to leave them hidden around the house.
“Then I’d go and look at the mould. I was so interested that there was life all around us.”
The six-part series, with garden designer Chris Myers and top botanist Dr Trevor Dines, took from May until November to film in urban places across the UK, but Sally, of Broughton Road, kept it from colleagues until now.
The lichenologist looks at lichens – a miniature world that occupy rocks, tree bark and plants – in the unconventional wildlife show.
“My area of expertise is basically things you can’t see with your naked eye. I go to these places and show you things that you wouldn’t expect to be there.
“It was hard work making the show but a lot of fun. I got to drive tanks and go up a skyscraper, which are not things you do every day as a lichen-ologist.”