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Ella Al-Shamahi and Datshiane Navanayagam
Mark Thiessen/Ben Wulf

BBC World Service announce new presenters for The Conversation, celebrating extraordinary women worldwide

Press Release · via BBC ·

Ella Al-Shamahi and Datshiane Navanayagam are the new hosts of The Conversation, the BBC World Service English programme dedicated to highlighting and discussing incredible women and their experiences.

The Conversation hears from women in different countries across the globe as they share first-hand their personal experiences and some of their most intimate insights, from what it’s like to be a woman in the music industry, to promoting women’s rights through sport, or working with local communities to fight climate change.

In the upcoming series of The Conversation, Ella meets two women taking part in the legendary Dakar race, a gruelling off-road endurance rally, which since its inception in 1978 only one woman has won. Meanwhile, Datshiane speaks to two women from East Timor and Finland who are fighting to eradicate homelessness.

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Ella Al-Shamahi is an explorer, palaeoanthropologist, evolutionary biologist and stand-up comic who has fronted science and archaeology programmes on the BBC and beyond, including BBC Two’s Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors, Horizon: Body Clock - What Makes Your Body Tick, and Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis. Ella has also been announced to present Human, a 5-part BBC Studios and PBS series airing in 2025, which tells the story of how modern humans came into being. Her debut book The Handshake: A Gripping History is a Times and Sunday Times Book of the Year and covers the history and anthropology of the handshake.

Datshiane Navanayagam is an award-winning investigative journalist and broadcaster, who reports for BBC One’s Countryfile and has fronted investigations for BBC Panorama, ITV’s Tonight, and Channel 4’s Dispatches and Unreported World. Datshiane is also no stranger to radio broadcasting, regularly reporting for Radio 4’s File on 4, and guest-presenting Weekend Breakfast on BBC Radio 5 Live, and BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show. She has also presented Outlook on the BBC World Service, as well as CrowdScience, a programme that takes listener questions about life, Earth and the universe to scholars at the forefront of the research.

Datshiane Navanayagam, says: "It’s a delight and a privilege to present The Conversation. Every woman has a story to tell and The Conversation is a real gem on the World Service, celebrating the experiences, achievements and wisdom of women. Where else do you have the space for women, from around the world, to talk intimately and candidly to one another about the hurdles and barriers that many of us face in all their nuances?

“While the world is still a hostile and volatile place for many women and girls, 'The Conversation’ champions women’s stories, proving that no woman has an ordinary life and that all of us have something to learn from each other."

Ella Al-Shamahi, says: “Every week on this show the listeners get to meet two exceptional women, often strangers, but who share an expertise – from malaria specialists, to race car drivers and everything in between – and we get to listen in on them having a conversation.

“To be asked to host and facilitate these conversations is incredible and to be around so many amazing women - what a dream. For over 20 years I’ve been fascinated with this interview style and now, to be doing ‘THE Conversation’ with the one and only BBC World Service - pinch me.”

Gwenan Roberts, BBC World Service Commissioning Editor, says: "The Conversation has grown a trusted reputation for bringing listeners the voices of inspiring women doing extraordinary things in different parts of the world. The series continues with this fantastic presenting duo, we are so pleased to have Ella and Datshiane on board.”

The Conversation airs every Monday and is available on BBC World Service radio, online, and on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your BBC podcasts.

Full image credits: Mark Thiessen/National Gepgraphic, Ben Wulf Photography.


The Conversation
BBC World Service

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