Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
"I liked the giant cotton buds, but my favourite was Powerball where I had to tackle people" © Gladiators

"I liked the giant cotton buds, but my favourite was Powerball where I had to tackle people"

Published: 08th March, 2018 at 12:00
Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

Trust Me, I’m A Doctor presenter, ex-Gladiator and fitness champion Dr Zoe Williams talks to Helen Pilcher.

Have you always wanted to be a doctor?
When I was three years old my Jamaican grandma bought me a children’s doctor outfit. It came with a stethoscope. I put it on and I totally loved it. She asked if I wanted to be a midwife like her when I grew up. But I said, no, I want to be a doctor.


You’re on telly a lot. Do you still get to be a GP?
I’m a GP first and foremost. I do two or three sessions a week. Then I do bits of TV – Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, This Morning and Horizon. I also work with Public Health England as one of 50 clinical champions for physical activity. It’s a scheme that I helped set up and I’m really proud of it. My role involves training healthcare professionals about physical activity. It’s all about empowering patients to do what they can for their own health, rather than throwing medication at them.

How active are you?
On my GP days, I always cycle to work. Often in London, it’s quicker to walk than take the tube, so I walk wherever I can. If I do travel by underground, I always take the stairs and I never use the elevators – it’s not good for my reputation!

How did you become a TV Gladiator?
I originally applied to be a contestant. At the time, I was a junior doctor with a pretty big student loan to pay off and the cash prize was enticing. My friends encouraged me to go for it. When I passed the initial tests, they asked me back to audition as a Gladiator. I couldn’t believe it when they offered me the job as Amazon!

What was your favourite event?
I liked the giant cotton buds, but my favourite was Powerball where I had to tackle people. I used to play rugby, so I felt right at home.

What was it like being a Gladiator?
Amazing! We spent so much time together that we became close very quickly. We stayed in the same hotel when we were filming. We ate together. We were like one big happy family. I’m still good friends with a lot of the Gladiators now.

How do you unwind?
Recently, a friend bought me one of those mindfulness colouring books so you can sit down for a couple of hours and do colouring in. They’re meant to help you de-stress. If I had time to sit down and colour in, I wouldn’t be stressed in the first place! Exercise is my main way of unwinding. I go to the gym and do a full-on intense session.

If your life was turned into a film, who would you want to play you?
Beyoncé. She’s smart, she’s an amazing actress and she rocks an afro!

If you could get one message out there, what would it be?

I’d like to motivate people to find ways of incorporating physical activity into their lives. You don’t have to go to the gym three times a week. It’s about thinking about what you already do during your day and then finding ways to make it more active – things like taking the stairs, or cycling rather than driving to work. These things can become habits and over your lifetime they can make a big difference.

Read more interviews with inspirational women working in science


Follow Science Focus on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and Flipboard


Helen Pilcher
Helen PilcherScience writer, presenter and performer.

Helen Pilcher is a tea-drinking, biscuit-nibbling science and comedy writer, with a PhD in cell biology.


Sponsored content