IN An Evening with Alice Roberts at the Grand Opera House, York, on Wednesday, the academic, anthropologist, author and broadcaster will be Digging Into Britain’s Past at 7.30pm. Where better to do that than in York, the city that promoted the “Living with History” strategy.

“I’m very fond of York,” says Professor Roberts. “I’ve been to York and filmed there many times. It was featured on Britain’s Most Historic Towns last year, when I focused on Viking York.”

Her travels brought her to the latest incarnation of Jorvik, the Viking Centre that required refurbishment after the 2015 Boxing Day floods. “The new museum is great, particularly for children to help them discover the past, stripping away the centuries to take them back to Viking days. Now there are so many artefacts on show,” says Alice.

Digging into York’s past is essential, whenever a construction project is taking place in such an historic city, says Alice. “Researching a city’s archaeology is paramount. If you destroy it, it’s gone forever,” she reasons. “There will always be people on both sides, some saying we should take more care; some saying it’s detrimental to construction’s progress, but I feel the level of regulation is about right, looking at all the environmental issues.”

Professor Roberts, who has been delving into Britain’s past for nigh on 20 years, has undertaken previous theatre tours but this one is of a different nature. “Usually I’ve taken a specific book out on tour, but this tour is not tied to any one book,” she says. “After the seventh series of Digging For Britain, I found myself looking back at past programmes and thinking about how we’ve covered so many places that this tour was a chance to write a history and anthropology show from a very personal viewpoint.”

Advances in research technology are reflected in each series Professor Roberts makes. “That’s one of the joys of making the programmes. Every year when we do a series looking at the most important discoveries from that year, you think ‘that was the best ever’, but then I’m always surprised again by the next year’s discoveries,” says Alice. “Every additional piece of evidence that is found is another piece slotting into place in the puzzle as you build up a better insight than ever before.

“We’ve extracted DNA from old bones for a while, but now we can do that from very small fragments, and we can even get DNA out of mud, which is terribly exciting.”

Professor Roberts has talked of how retracing the steps of our ancestors has given her a “profound sense of our common humanity: our shared past and our shared future”. Hence she holds no truck with 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes’s belief that “the natural condition of mankind is a state of war in which life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.

“No. Hobbes is completely wrong. You would never get 200,000 chimpanzees living as densely as people do in York without a massive fight.,” she says.

Tickets for this January 23 event are on sale on 0844 871 3024 or at