Los­ing lead­ing pre­sen­ters would to be an ex­per­i­ment too far

The Herald - Arts - - TV & RADIO - Anne Simp­son

In a re­cent ra­dio dis­cus­sion Brian Cox, the physi­cist for whom cos­mol­ogy is the new rock `n roll, de­clared that any­one who couldn't con­verse about sci­ence at a din­ner party, was not an ed­u­cated per­son. That prob­a­bly ac­counts for most of us, and it must have been a com­ment that res­onated with Ra­dio 4 con­troller Gwyneth Wil­liams who is de­ter­mined that her ten­ure of the sta­tion should go some way to re­dress­ing the im­bal­ance of cov­er­age be­tween the arts and sciences in broad­cast­ing.

Fif­teen months in to one of the BBC's plum jobs, Wil­liams has launched The Life Sci­en­tific (Tues­day, 9am), a weekly se­ries in which Jim Al-Khalili (pic­tured) talks to some of the world's lead­ing sci­en­tists about their early mo­ti­va­tions, and the sig­nif­i­cance of their work in the greater scheme of things. AlKhalili, pro­fes­sor of physics at Sur­rey Univer­sity, is a new voice to ra­dio but one which Wil­liams de­scribes as “tremen­dously en­gag­ing”.

Ad­vances in physics and as­tron­omy in­crease by the week. Not so our un­der­stand­ing, and so Wil­liams wants these pro­grammes to break down pop­u­lar re­sis­tance to sci­ence and il­lus­trate how sci­ence and the arts can in­ter­face to the ben­e­fit of both. Now, ap­proach­ing the third edi­tion, Al-Khalili is al­ready es­tab­lished as a per­sua­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tor who can draw out from his guests the lively ideas and com­pul­sion to un­ravel puz­zles which make sci­ence one long, creative ad­ven­ture.

But to ac­com­mo­date The Life Sci­en­tific – and the new, fol­low-on Tues­day in­ter­view, One to One – three se­ries have been axed: Fer­gal Keane's Tak­ing a Stand, Michael Buerk's The Choice, and the John Humphrys pro­gramme, On the Ropes. Each of these ti­tles fo­cused on in­di­vid­u­als in ad­ver­sity, and in­evitably each sounded like an echo of the oth­ers. “They were ter­rific sto­ries” says the con­troller, “but they be­came for­mu­laic.” So, good­bye to Keane, Buerk and Humphrys? Wil­liams in­sists they will play an im­por­tant part in her fur­ther over­haul­ing of sched­ules. Bud­get cuts are one thing; ditch­ing peer­less broad­cast­ers would be a calamity of a dif­fer­ent or­der.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.