Marcel Theroux : biography
Marcel Raymond Theroux (born 13 June 1968) is a British novelist and broadcaster. He wrote The Stranger in The Earth and The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes: a paper chase for which he won the Somerset Maugham Award in 2002. His third novel, A Blow to the Heart, was published by Faber in 2006. His fourth, Far North was published in June 2009 (ISBN 978-0374153533). His fifth, Strange Bodies was published in May 2013 (ISBN 978-0571297894). He worked in television news in New York and in Boston.
He is the middle son of the American travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux. His younger brother, Louis Theroux, is a journalist and television presenter.
Born in Kampala, Uganda, where his father was teaching at Makerere University, and spending two years in Singapore, where his father taught at the National University of Singapore, Theroux was brought up in Wandsworth, London. After attending a state primary school, he boarded at Westminster School. He went on to study English Literature at Clare College, Cambridge. He won a fellowship to study International Relations with a specialization in Soviet and East European Studies at Yale University. Currently he lives in London and is married. His French last name originates from the region around Sarthe and Yonne in France. It is quite common in francophone countries and is originally spelled Théroux. His father is of half French Canadian and half Italian descent; his mother Anne Castle is fully English.
From 2000 to 2002, Theroux presented a series of documentaries for Unreported World.
In 2004 he presented The End of the World as We Know It, part of the War on Terra television series about climate change on Channel 4, for which he was chosen as presenter precisely because he originally knew nothing about the subject. He initially considered all environmentalists as being opposed to technological progress. But during his research he became convinced that we face a global problem on a scale so serious that an expansion of nuclear energy is probably the best solution (choosing the lesser evil). He reached this conclusion partly via the subjects of several interviews, amongst them Gerhard Bertz of the insurance agency Munich Re, who indicated that in the past 20 years payments for natural disasters have increased by 500 percent. During another, with Royal Dutch Shell chairman Lord Ron Oxburgh, a PR assistant intervened to curtail the conversation, apparently because Oxburgh’s negative views on the consequences of current oil consumption were considered detrimental to the corporation’s image.
In March 2006 Theroux presented Death of a Nation on More4, as part of the The State of Russia series. In the programme he explored the country’s post-Soviet problems, including population decline, the growing AIDS epidemic and the persecution of the Meskhetian Turks. During interviews in the programme, he spoke simple Russian.
On 28 September 2008 he presented Oligart: The Great Russian Art Boom on Channel 4 about how Russia’s rich are keeping Russia’s art history alive by buying, and exhibiting domestic art.
In March 2009, Faber and Faber published Far North, a future epic set in the Siberian taiga.
On 16 March 2009, Marcel Theroux presented In Search of Wabi-sabi on BBC Four as part of the channel’s ‘Hidden Japan’ season of programming. Marcel travelled throughout Japan trying to understand the aesthetic tastes of Japan and its people.
In 2012, Theroux presented a documentary for Unreported World Series 23, on the subject of street children in Ukraine.