Never meet your heroes! No celebrity crush or silver screen star is as good in real life as you expect them to be. If you’d actually hooked up with Jason Orange or Pearl Harbor era Ben Affleck then guaranteed you’d’ve been massively disappointed. So it is with great trepidation I gently announced BOATY MCBOATFACE IS COMING TO LONDON!
Yes, actual Boaty McBoatface is headed to Greenwich aboard the RRS Sir David Attenborough and it’s, like, a massive deal. And what’s more, you can actually meet Boaty in person.
Boaty McBoatface was the centre of a national commotion over the naming of the ship which became RRS Sir David Attenborough. Somewhat unwisely, given it fell around the same time as the Brexit and Trump votes, the Natural Environment Research Council decided to put the naming of their brand spanking new red research ship to the public.
The internet voted decisively to name the pride of Britain's research fleet Boaty McBoatface...
Setting the tone that they wanted to strike, they tentatively suggested Shackleton, Endeavour, Falcon. Names with a suitable history in exploration and scientific endeavour. The internet wasn’t having any of it.
The internet voted decisively to name the pride of Britain’s research fleet Boaty McBoatface, the ingenious suggestion of a former BBC journalist James Hand, who suggested the name as ‘a bit of a laugh’.
And so a classic British fudge was struck...
Leaving the venerable NERC with a challenge. Go with Boaty McBoatface, and risk every penguin in Antarctica laughing at us every time the ship moored up, or ignore their very public campaign result and go with something a little more, um, appropriate.
And so a classic British fudge was struck; the ship was christened the Sir David Attenborough after, well, you know who, while the onboard submarine was named Boaty McBoatface.
The RRS Sir David Attenborough is planning a trip to Greenwich later this month and while the ship itself will be off limits as it stocks up for a voyage to the Antarctic, Boaty is being let out to play.
National Maritime Museum has teamed up with the British Antarctic Survey for an exhibition called Ice Worlds. It’s free (boom!), though you need to book ahead, and the centrepiece will be… Boaty McBoatface in all his handsome yellow glory.
The centrepiece will be... Boaty McBoatface in all his handsome yellow glory...
The three-day festival will show what it’s like to live and work in the freezing conditions of the Arctic and Antarctic, the science and technology that goes into these trips and also a chance to see relics from the ill-fated HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, which disappeared into the Arctic without trace in the nineteenth century before being discovered in 2014. There will also be items belonging to Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton.
But of course you’ll be there to finally clap eyes on Boaty McBoatface in the flesh. They say never meet your heroes, but I’m going to make an exception for Boaty.
Ice Worlds (staring Boaty McBoatface) will be held at the National Maritime Museum between Thursday 28th and Saturday 30th October 2021.