On This Day … 06 April

People (Births)

Tanya Byron

Tanya Byron (born 06 April 1967) is a British psychologist, writer, and media personality, best known for her work as a child therapist on television shows Little Angels and The House of Tiny Tearaways. She also co-created the BBC Two sitcom The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle with Jennifer Saunders, and still contributes articles to various newspapers.

In 2008, she became Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Edge Hill University and is the first and current Chancellor of the same institution.

Early Life

When Byron was 15 years old, her German-born paternal grandmother was murdered by being battered to death by a woman who abused illicit drugs. Her grandmother knew the woman, who was in pursuit of money. Byron was perplexed by this cruelty, and at about that time she began to try to understand how anyone could do such a terrible thing and began to be interested in psychology.

Education

Byron was educated at North London Collegiate School, University of York (BSc Psychology, 1989), University College London (MSc Clinical Psychology, 1992), and University of Surrey (PhD, 1995). Her PhD thesis was entitled “The evaluation of an outpatient treatment programme for stimulant drug misuse”, and was completed at University College Hospital.

Career

Prior to training in Clinical Psychology, Byron worked as a researcher on the BBC’s Video Diaries documentary series. Once she qualified, Byron worked in the NHS for 18 years in a number of public health areas such as drug addiction, STDs, and mental disorders.

In 2005, Byron was featured on French and Saunders’ Christmas Special as herself, who came in to sort out Dawn and Jennifer’s childish behaviour on the show. Subsequently, she co-wrote the series The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle with Jennifer Saunders. Byron has also co-authored a book on parenting based on the Little Angels show and two other books on child development and parenting, as well as writing weekly articles for The Times and contributing to several women’s magazines. She has also worked with the Home Office on the current changes to the Homicide Act as it relates to children and young people, and she also works with the National Family and Parenting Institute advising government and ministers on related policy.

In September 2007, it was announced that she would head an independent review in England – supported by the Department for Children, Schools, and Families, as well as the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport – into the potentially harmful effects of both the Internet and video games on children. This was published in March 2008 as “Safer Children in a Digital World”, but is commonly called the Byron Review.

In April 2008, Byron fronted a four-part show called Am I Normal? exploring the boundaries of acceptable behaviour.

In May 2008, she was elected as the first Chancellor of Edge Hill University, in Lancashire and installed at a ceremony in December 2008.[10] Edge Hill University also appointed her to the post of Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, and she delivered her inaugural lecture, “The Trouble With Kids”, in March the following year.

In 2009, Byron was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of York.

Byron is the patron of Prospex, a charity which works with young people in North London. She is also a partner in a media company, Doris Partnership.

She has published The Skeleton Cupboard: The Making of a Clinical Psychologist in 2015.

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