Science Journalist, Actor and Filmmaker
Anja’s road to becoming one of Australia’s best-known science journalists wasn’t a typical one. Stepping onto the set of the 1970s hit series Chopper Squad as a five year old, she looked set to follow her famous dad’s footsteps into acting.
Roles in Australian film and TV followed, including in Patrol Boat, The Year My Voice Broke, Water Rats, All Saints and Dating the Enemy – but it was while playing a marine biologist on the US series Flipper that she got curious about science and began making a transition to documentary film-making.
Since then, Anja has worked in the engine room of many high-end factual programs, including as a researcher for the Canadian air force documentary Maple Flag (Discovery), Flight of the Elephants (Channel 9), Next Wave (National Geographic) and One Step Beyond (Discovery). Her credits also include researcher, writer and producer for Code Red (Discovery) and as a director and writer for Catalyst and Stargazing Live Australia (ABC/BBC).
As a director, Anja has produced more than 80 long-form, prime-time science programs from concept to broadcast. Highlights include the 2015 WW1 commemorative edition mapping the AE2 Gallipoli submarine wreck in Turkey, a climate change special in Antarctica, exploring underwater Nullarbour groundwater caves and broadcasting live astronomy from the dark fields of Siding Spring Observatory.
Anja is best known as a long-term host of the ABC science program Catalyst, which was broadcast in prime-time to an average weekly audience of around 1 million.
Anja has been widely recognised for her work, winning the Goethe Institute EcoFilm award for Plastic Oceans, the Best Program Supporting Climate Change Initiative at the World TV Film Festival for Extreme Weather and the Tasmanian MEAA Best Documentary award for Earth on Fire. She has also been a finalist four times for the prestigious Australian Museum Eureka prize for Science Journalism.
As a host of Aussie Inventions that Changed the World, Anja is delighted to be the 3rd member of her family to join the Foxtel team – father Robert Coleby and brother Conrad Coleby play father and son in A Place to Call Home.
Of her attraction to the series Anja says: “So many of our greatest inventions have come from the application of abstract science principles to a crack a problem that has profound influence on us all – like the algorithms used in the search for black holes leading to high speed wifi, or the understanding of fluorescence leading to a portable forensic light. Being able to tell these stories in the context of Australia’s growth as a country, including how our unique landscape, population and climate inspired and challenged our brightest and most determined minds was an irresistible opportunity for me as a science journalist. I think it’s fantastic series that will have really strong appeal to a wide audience.”