Where are all the female travel presenters?

Ok, I’m not normally the sort of person to rant. But after having watched yet another TV travel documentary hosted by a middle-aged male presenter, I feel I must nail my colours to the mast on behalf of womankind.

This autumn the UK screens seem to be awash with travel documentaries. Last night it was writer and comedian Stephen Fry tootling around America in his oh so very British London taxi. Then writer and comedian Paul Merton was in India trying out his batting at a cricket club for the blind. Competing with him on the same night was writer and comedian Gryff Rhys Jones trying to sing Gospel in New York as part of his Greatest cities of the World series. Can you see a pattern emerging? Is there a conspiracy out there to get all the aging male comedians on our screens in one week and then flog us their coffee table book for Christmas?

I blame Michael Palin, the grand-daddy of them all for starting the trend. I’ll even admit to having his videos and books on my shelf.

But where are all the female TV travel presenters? I’m longing to see some attractive and intrepid gal getting up to something adventurous in somewhere exotic. My husband is getting fed up of hearing me moan about it too. The closest we’ve got recently is Tribal Wives, where the formula is to take an English women in need of a life change to stay with a remote community and then line them up for a prospective romance with some unfortunate local. No stereotypes there then!

I’ll make an exception of course for Bruce Parry, who brings a charming if slightly mad brand of enthusiasm to everything he does. I can’t forget the sight of him leaping naked over a row of cattle in an initiation ceremony in Ethiopia. And at the prospect of taking the halucinogenic drug Ayahuasca, which will make him vomit uncontrollably before giving him wierd dreams, he can’t wait!

When I was in Ecuador our guide told us a fairy tale of two travellers who mysteriously disappeared into the rainforest. But unlike Hansel and Gretel there was no happy ending. Eventually it was discovered that they had died after overdosing on Ayahuasca but the locals had hidden their bodies for fear of the trouble they’d be in. After that I decided to pass on the Ayahuasca.

Then there are those Medicine Men, the identical twins Chris and Xand, with such a lovely bedside manner. They agonise over whether they should treat sick children using western medicine or leave them to the herbal remedies of the local shaman. The scene where they found a tapeworm in a piece of roasted monkey was especially appetising.

But there’s something missing for me – where are all the adventurous female TV travel presenters? I know the women travellers are out there because I read their blogs. But why aren’t they on TV?

Here’s my vision for the next hit TV travel series.

Intrepid lady sets off to explore the unspoiled wildernesses, penetrate into the deepest rainforest, stay with the nomadic peoples of the desert and bring us her stories from a woman’s point of view. No powerful motorbikes or other boys toys will be involved!

Or how about this scenario?

Hip and gorgeous babe scours cities from Istanbul to Marakesh, Berlin to Beijing, searching out the most secret and cool haunts with the help of the local blogger in each location. By the way, I’m past thinking of myself as that hip and gorgeous babe, but I could always be her fixer.

What do you think? Any collaborators out there?

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  • Reply
    February 25, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    “Istanbul to Marakesh, Berlin to Beijing”

    Well it’s only web tv for now, but we’ll have three of the four cities you mention covered this year!!

    In the States we have only Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel — perpetually perky, never gives a bad review, and thinks drinking out of a bottle qualifies as exotic. The rest are all men, doing men things, some are okay, most mediocre. Meanwhile women make 70% of household travel decisions. When will they learn!? 🙂

  • Reply
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    March 18, 2010 at 7:34 am

    Men on travel shows can be middleaged!
    Women on travel shows must look good in bikini!


    Men rule the roost in the boardrooms of television stations.

    But there is a solution, online broadcasting.

    There is a travel video group on facebook, https://facebook.com/group.php?gid=17358656024&ref=ts

    I would really like to see some female presenters adding videos AND becoming admins.



    “The tv industry is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”
    Hunter S

  • Reply
    Nancie (Ladyexpat)
    April 8, 2010 at 7:31 am

    How about adding a few of the over 50 women to the list. There’s lots of us traveling and having great adventures.

    The only Travel show I see is when I visit my friends in Taiwan and think it might be sponsored by Discovery (could be wrong). That one has several female hosts, and I can’t stand any of them. They all come off as a little on the dense side and too sappy for my liking.

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    May 2, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    @Nancy – I get the distinct impression that female presentaters get pidgeonholed by programme makers & they think anyone over 30 is over is past their sell by date!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Sophia Rick
    February 9, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Hi … I would like to be a female presenter for a Travel show, any takers

    Sophia Rick

  • Reply
    Michael Thomsen
    February 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Dear Sophia,

    YES I know I’m a male!

    I’ve worked for years in the IT industry, and travelled in all parts of the world, but I miss a female tv-star – not in her early teens, but with something on her mind!
    I’m working on a format, that will not be aired, in the traditional manners, since I believe in independence… It will be on the YouTube channel…

    In general my idea is to visit places and talk to passionated persons, slow tv with good background research, inspiring people, male and females as coworkers…

    Salary and stuff like that,, hmm, I’m not sure about the money, but I’m sure that if you could fit into the team, it could be a great journey!

    Btw, as mentioned I work on the format for the moment, and will meet up with the people I have in mind.

    best regards

  • Reply
    Michael Thomsen
    February 24, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    🙂 you can write to me on

  • Reply
    Wersha Bharadwa
    July 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Hi Heather,
    This is a great post and I love your blog! Apologies for being late to the party! I have been thinking about this for years now (I’m a female journo, have been writing travel for various national media for over 13 years and have only recently ventured into my own online travel TV show filming vlogs at Wersha’s World (www.wersha.co.uk) and set up my own YouTube Channel for my travel video blogs: https://youtube.com/watch?v=MBHgVm_5snY

    I got approached a few years back to film Tribal Wives style obs-docs based on the kind of journalism I do (often immersive pieces.) Cut to now, I’m a mum to a nine month old boy, and still a travel writer but now I’ve set up my own (web based) TV show called Wersha’s World based on me travelling around the world (my vlogs are so far UK based as i’m just getting to grips with editing and am looking for a director/ editor to collaborate with.) I have a family now, but that doesn’t mean I want travel – especially for my boy – to be restricted to packages in soulless resorts.

    I want to see travel filmed in an inspiring way and so that’s the direction i’m taking. I hope this is of interest. I’d love to collaborate with you and other bloggers. I’ve got great contacts with PRs and tourist boards and you’d be a great fixer! Maybe we can start filming projects in London soon with all those cool haunts 🙂 email is wersha_1@hotmail.com

    PS Kim:@ Galavanting – Brilliant work! I love watching your shows. If you’d like a UK based journalist to collaborate and produce some videos for you (with a proper camera and editor albeit!) let me know.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      July 23, 2013 at 11:06 pm

      @Wersha So pleased that you enjoyed the post – since I wrote this I’ve noticed a few more women presenters on TV but I still think there’s room for a lot more. I’ve answered my own question by developing my own Youtube videos including myself as presenter and narator. I think this is the way forward to putting yourself and I see that you have the same idea. By creating your own videos you are making a portfolio that shows your presentation skills. I’d be happy to see if we can find ways to collaborate in the future.

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