Ralph Barker joined the RAF in 1940, serving as an air gunner and wireless operator until 1945. He was fortunate enough never to end up 'down in the drink' himself, though his Beaufort was hit a few times, and he survived a crash on take-off in which his pilot and navigator were killed. After the war, he worked in civil aviation for a short time, before rejoining the RAF, to work in the secretariat until 1961. DOWN IN THE DRINK (1957) was his first book to be published. It launched a successful career as a writer, in the course of which he has written over a dozen books on the RAF, books on terrorism and war at sea, and hundreds of feature articles for the Sunday Express. He celebrated his ninetieth birthday in 2007 - fifty years after the first publication of DOWN IN THE DRINK, shortly after attending a party celebrating its republication.
Geoff Beattie is the Head of School and Dean of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and was awarded the Spearman Medal by the BPS for 'published psychological research of outstanding merit'. Geoff has been the resident psychologist on ten series of Big Brother.
Emma Bridgewater established her successful pottery business in 1985. She found a manufacturer in Stoke-on-Trent to produce a range of mugs, jugs and teapots inspired by traditional shapes and spongeware designs. She now employs over 230 people and continues to make all her ceramics in Staffordshire, the historic home of pottery manufacture in Britain. Emma is married with four children and lives outside Oxford, where she was brought up.Follow Emma on Twitter: @EmmaBridgewater www.emmabridgewater.co.uk
Clemency Burton-Hill is one of the UK's leading arts broadcasters and writers. She is one of the presenters of BBC Radio 3 Breakfast, the Proms, and Young Musician of the Year as well as numerous other music and arts programmes on radio, television and online. A former presenter of The Culture Show and The Review Show, as a journalist she regularly contributes to the Observer, Economist, 1843 Magazine, FT Weekend, Guardian and Telegraph. She is also the classical music columnist for BBC Culture. An award-winning violinist, Clemency has performed all over the world under leading conductors. She is the co-founder of Aurora Orchestra and a patron of the music and arts education charities The Choir of London Trust and Dramatic Need.