The BBC has impressed me recently with a couple of standout science-related programs that haven’t shied from some traditionally dry subject material.

Two weeks ago there was The Hidden Life of the Cell — a grandiose, narrative-driven tale of the epic struggle between the human immune system and viral invaders. It showcased some really impressive visualisations of molecular biology, as well as some interesting insight from scientists like Nick Lane* of UCL and narration by none other than Doctor Who himself!

More recently, Dara Ó Briain kicked off his new series Science Club. Dara is no stranger to hosting popular science shows, having helped out Brian Cox with Stargazing Live (didn’t see) and hosting the maths-based series  The School of Hard Sums (didn’t enjoy). Viewers of the latter program will recognise a similar format with Science Club, but this time the Irishman’s charm is lacquered upon more general topics, starting with reproduction and inheritance. It was nice to spot some different (well, lesser-known) faces and I appreciated the brave foray into epigenetics, which I expect many similar programs would avoid at 9pm on a Tuesday; nevertheless, it seemed to go down well with some:

Both of these shows are nice departures from those that typically fill the “Science & Nature” category of iPlayer — namely Countryfile and AutumnWatch — and I’d like to think they reflect a growing interest of the populous in learning real science. While I do have criticisms of both the shows I mention here, kudos to the BBC for putting out these programs (especially at primetime) and I look forward to more quality science programming.

* Good scientist, gaudy website!


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