Mary-Ann Ochota

  • About Mary-Ann Ochota
  • Corporate Biography

Mary-Ann specialises in presenting anthropology, archaeology and adventure travel, combining a real passion for people and the outdoors with enthusiastic onscreen expertise. She’s a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a GetOutside Champion for the Ordnance Survey.

Mary-Ann has explored the Chernobyl nuclear exclusion zone for Animal Planet (Life After: Chernobyl, TX April 2016), joined rainforest researchers hunting for evidence of the officially extinct Tasmanian tiger (Hunting Lazarus, TX May 2016), and trekked 500km on foot across Australia’s Simpson Desert, searching for evidence of lost aboriginal sites. Working with seventeen pack camels who carried all their food and water, the team survived in the desert for 43 days, looking for wells, campsites and artefacts. Mary-Ann filmed the expedition, and an adventure doc Expedition: Desert is now in production.

Her first documentary for BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, A Dirty Secret (TX April 2016), explores the impact of life without a decent toilet - a reality for more than 2.3 billion people in the world. Her series for German channel ARD-Alpha, Best of Enemies, will be broadcast in English and German in the run-up to the Brexit referendum in June.

Mary-Ann has reported from India and Thailand for Channel 4’s critically acclaimed foreign affairs programme, Unreported World. She fronted the internationally successful Feral Children (Raised Wild in the US) for Animal Planet, investigating real cases of extraordinary child survival in Fiji, Uganda and Ukraine.

Mary-Ann is a familiar face on archaeology shows on both sides of the Atlantic. She presented a collection of Britain’s Secret Treasures and Britain’s Secret Homes for ITV1, including from under the Atlantic Ocean, on a tiny island in Orkney and in a boat in Canterbury. She featured on the Smithsonian Channel/BBC2 special Stonehenge Empire/Operation Stonehenge and was a regular on History’s hit show Ancient Impossible. Mary-Ann was also co-presenter on the penultimate series of cult archaeology show, Time Team.

Her first book, Britain’s Secret Treasures, was a collaboration with the British Museum, to accompany the ITV series. Her second book, Hidden Histories: A Spotter’s Guide to the British Landscape, will be published in October 2016. It explores the intriguing archaeological features you can spot in the British landscape – from prehistoric burial mounds to Norman churches to ancient highways.

Mary-Ann regularly previews the papers for Sky News, has contributed to BBC News and BBC World, and reports for ITN Industry News. She writes regularly for the Telegraph Weekend, and has written for the Sun, Mirror, Independent, Observer, BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent and outdoors and adventure magazines including Countryfile, Geographical, The Great Outdoors, Summit and Getaway.

Mary-Ann has an MA in Archaeology & Anthropology from Cambridge University and has completed varied research and field study in the UK and worldwide. She’s a warm and incisive speaker and host for conferences, debates and talks.

Mary-Ann is an experienced cold water UK scuba diver, an enthusiastic horse rider and sailor, and keen hillwalker. She’s sailed across the North Pacific from Qingdao, China, to San Francisco, USA, and across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to St Lucia. This summer she plans to complete the Cuillin Ridge Traverse, a two-day mountaineering journey on the Isle of Skye for the British Mountaineering Council online BMC TV.

Mary-Ann's website: 

Twitter and Instagram: @MaryAnnOchota

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Mary-Ann specialises in anthropology, archaeology and outdoor pursuits.

Anthropology seeks to make sense of human behaviour in a complex world, drawing on a number of disciplines, including psychology, biology, history and behavioural economics. It’s about drawing out the reality of people’s lives, going beyond the statistics and models, towards a richer, more valuable understanding.

A quick, warm and versatile host, Mary-Ann has given a broad range of keynote and educational lectures, hosted awards and chaired debates and seminars. Recent events have included hosting the Royal Geographical Society’s annual Microlectures event and giving a headline talk at the Kendal Mountain Festival. Her talks range from quirky keynotes on tribal leadership, tales of adventure from her expedition notebooks, to opening talks on human rights, cultural capital and social evolution.

She has research and practical volunteering interests in disability issues, community and criminal justice and development and education. She is a member of an Independent Custody Visiting panel, is a watchleader with disability sailing charity, the Jubilee Sailing Trust, is a 'Loo-minary' of the international ToiletTwinning organisation, and served as an awards presenter and juror for the One World Media awards.

Mary-Ann has offered insight to corporate clients across charity, consumer and communications sectors on topics as diverse as 'Britishness', the psychology of risk, online friendship and community cohesion.

She reports regularly for ITN Industry News across a range of sectors, including motoring, engineering innovation, health and social care and tourism development.

She has reported for BBC Radio 4, Channel 4's foreign affairs strand Unreported World, has presented documentaries for Discovery, Nat Geo, ITV and the BBC and is a regular commentator for Sky News.

A keen traveller and outsdoorswoman, Mary-Ann has visited and worked in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Ukraine, Fiji, Algeria, India, Bangladesh and China. Expedition highlights include sailing across the Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, surveying rock art in the Algerian Sahara, trekking across Australia’s Simpson Desert with pack camels for 43 days, and working with crofters in Orkney.

She has particular love for the wild places of the UK, and is proud to be a GetOutside Champion for the Ordnance Survey. She is an experienced UK scuba diver, hiker, horse rider and sailor. She's often accompanied on her adventures by her dog, Harpo.

Mary-Ann writes regular features for the Telegraph Weekend section on outdoors and countryside issues, as well as for outdoor and adventure publications like Countryfile (UK), Geographical, TGO and Getaway (South Africa), and other national newspapers. Her first book, Britain's Secret Treasures, was in collaboration with the British Museum and ITV. Her second book, Hidden Histories, about archaeology in the British landscape, will be published this October by Frances Lincoln.

Mary-Ann is an alumna of Emmanuel College, Cambridge University and a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.

Recent testimonials include:

Royal Geographical Society Microlectures
You were a brilliant host for the evening! Engaging, in control and fun. There was a great atmosphere all-round the event.

Marmot adventure tent, Kendal Mountain Festival
Many thanks… It’s the best attended event we’ve had.

?What If! Innovation, London
Mary-Ann radiates a unique and rare energy and professionalism; she was an utter joy to work with. I now always recommend her to colleagues and professional contacts. As a company,?What If!'s core offering is insight-based innovation. A leading global food and beverage client had tasked us with boosting the in-home experience of one of their existing coffee brands, and part of the proposition was around 'playfulness' and 'connectivity' - so who better to speak to but Mary-Ann, to get an anthropologist's view on why humans love to 'play' and why it's integral to our lives and development. The clients were captivated with the content and the energy that Mary-Ann exuded.

Night of Adventure for Hope and Homes for Children
You were an excellent MC...just the right balance of relaxed friendliness with audience and professionally guiding us through the evening.

The Institute of Art and Ideas, Hay on Wye
Mary-Ann was an impeccable chair of her panel events at Crunch and HowtheLightGetsIn, with an excellent rapport with panellists and audience alike and a strong command of the issues under debate.

Tales of Adventure, London
Your presentation about feral children was completely compelling and had the whole audience utterly transfixed. I've had a number of members of the audience contact me since to express their thanks for putting on our best evening to date, which is down in large part to your talk. My only regret is that I didn't give you longer to speak.

Click here to see Mary-Ann at One World Media Awards 2014

Click here to see Mary-Ann on BBC Breakfast

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