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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

4th June 2019 Vienna, Austria

No such thing as a fish

At the beginning of April, I was delighted to find out that a British podcast at the intersection of comedy and science had been chosen for the City of Vienna’s annual science communication award.

To me this is both a testament to the strong bilateral relationship the UK has with Austria on science and education and an appreciation of the great tradition of British humour.

No such thing as a fish’ is weekly podcast where four writers from the BBC’s QI, a long-running comedy quiz show, gather around a table, taking turns to introduce their favourite fact of the week which they have come across researching for the programme. It’s usually something bizarre and quirky like the fact that the dish of the world’s largest telescope could hold enough cornflakes to give the entire world population a bowl for breakfast every day for a year. They all have a discussion about those facts with each member introducing new aspects to it. It’s as entertaining as it is educating. To me it’s like listening to four witty and clever friends chatting in a pub.

The podcast is extremely successful, its episodes have been listened to more than 100m times, averaging about 1.5m streams every month. The four writers behind ‘No Such Thing As a Fish’ have recently published a book and are currently touring through the UK.

Vienna’s science communication award is named after the late Austrian physicist Heinz Oberhummer, who himself tied to package scientific facts with a good dose of humour as part of the ‘Science Busters’ programme on ORF. The award committee said they chose No Such Thing As A Fish because it represented an antidote to the age of fake news.

Austria and the UK have always cooperated closely on science and education.

Austria is one of the top six destinations for British exchange students and UK is the third most popular destination for Austrians behind Germany and Spain.

I recently visited Uni Linz which in cooperation with Imperial College London conducts research on artificial intelligence.

My team and I will continue to work to strengthen those links. I look forward to the group behind No Such Thing As A Fish coming to Vienna to receive their award in November which will also include a live performance.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.