As an open Attenborough fanatic I’m all for scientific personalities on the TV, in the news and just about anywhere else. What is this doing for the scientific community though?
In the past few years the number of scientific telly programmes has exploded and not just natural science but shows such as Bang Goes the Theory and Walking with Dinosaurs have introduced the public to a much wider range of scientific topics, and perhaps also subliminally to a wider range of scientific careers.
The types of programme have not only changed by the presenters of these programmes are drastically different. Sir Patrick Moor who sadly died in 2012 expanded the viewer’s knowledge of astrology in the long running BBC documentary The Sky at Night, which began in 1957. As enthusiastic as Sir Patrick was the programmes were lecture-like and information packed.
In contrast modern scientific personalities such as Brain Cox and Michael Mosley present varied shows on different topics. Instead of being in front of a blackboard or behind a desk they are in far flung places across the globe using CGI and other new-age media techniques to keep the viewer tuned in.
I am in favour of science themed shows on the TV, the more the better in my opinion. I just hope with the face of science getting younger and ‘fitter’ (depending on your stance in the Prof Cox attractiveness debate) that people still care about the science and not just the scientist.