Bang Goes The Theory

TV has long tried to sex up really boring subjects. It’s in television’s nature to do so. Like Willy Wonka making sweets that taste like real cooking, the idiot lantern tries to get complicated and boring subjects and make them palatable and sits us down, cutting it all up into nice little mushy parcels so we don’t even have to chew.

Sadly, TV usually fails. Open University shows stuck to being boring and hairy in flares because it knew there was no point in trying to make theories on coavalent bonding any sexier. Bang Goes The Theory however missed the memo and is currently airing with all the awkwardness of an erection during a slow dance at a school disco.

The assembled hosts hop around from foot to foot, giggling and snorting at their various experiments all set in some rusty hangar. Science is usually white and sterile like a Persil commercial, so obviously, sticking it in a gentle equivalent of a Mad Max set makes the whole thing feel more relevant and edgy, right?

Wrong.

See, what this show has completely failed to recognise is that sticking four people together in a junk filled room is one thing… to get a bunch of people who have no chemistry (the irony kills me) to act like best buddies is another altogether.

In turn, each person grins and coos at the one another while mind numbing experiments take place which involve disappointing explosions or whatever. They aimed for Jackass Meets Science and forgot that Mythbusters already exists and does it miles better.

As such, because of the lack of balls, Bang Goes The Theory feels like a misplaced CBBC show. A show that accidentally wandered into the wrong room and was stuck with all the big boys, with their ideas and swearing. If the show was aired at 4pm, you’d probably think it was great… but alas, it’s plonked in prime time looking like a trembling wreck on the highest diving board getting haragued by all the hard kids.

Science, of course, is hugely important in our world… but sadly, this show never lets on. It’s all about futile endeavours and Farah slacks. It’s like being stuck in the Biology staff room at lunch listening to lame jokes and awful anecdotes from university.

From the end of July, the presenters of new BBC One science series, Bang Goes The Theory, will be touring the nation, giving seven towns and cities the chance to participate in interactive science shows that bring science to life in front of the audiences’ eyes.

People in Glasgow, Bristol, Belfast, Blackpool, Swansea, Birmingham and Newcastle are being given a special invitation to join in the fun, when the Bang Goes The Theory Roadshow starts its two-month tour.

“These roadshows aim to spark the nation’s curiosity about science,” says Dr Yan Wong, presenter.

“Getting people to explore the world around them is really the essence of science, and that’s what we are trying to encourage.”

Combining live science shows with the presenters and a special interactive area, the free roadshow – organised by BBC Learning – will give the public the chance to get hands on with science. At least one of the presenters will attend each of the roadshow events.

“For me, science is about trying things out and getting your hands dirty,” says Dallas Campbell, fellow presenter.

“The best way to explain how something works is by showing it in action. I want science to engage with people’s natural curiosity and we’re hoping that families all around the country will come along to the events to try new things out and learn more about science.”

The interactive tour is visiting the following towns and cities:

Glasgow River Festival – 25/26 July
Bristol Harbour Festival – 1/2 August
Belfast Maritime Festival – 13/14/15 August
Blackpool Promenade – 22/23 August
Swansea City Centre – 5/6 September
Birmingham ArtsFest – 12/13 September
Newcastle Mela – 26/27 September
The free tour will give thousands of people the opportunity to put science to the test and is just one part of a multimedia BBC campaign to bring science into the nation’s lives.

As well as the TV programme (starting Monday 27 July at 7.30pm), the roadshow will be accompanied by online activities, including science demos that can be recreated at home by the whole family.

In addition to the regional roadshows, BBC’s 21cc and L.A.B. will be conducting science and film making workshops connected to the series in London and Salford (25–27 August) and Glasgow (20 July).

The BBC buses will also be on the road, taking interactive Bang Goes The Theory table top science shows to the Big Chill (8 and 9 August), Pembrokeshire Show (18–20 August) and the Shrewsbury Folk Festival (August Bank Holiday weekend).

To find out more about Bang Goes The Theory and the multimedia learning campaign (including the roadshow) visit bbc.co.uk/bang.

To celebrate the launch of Bang Goes The Theory, BBC One is putting science to the test with an exciting, live, televised experiment being conducted next week on 14 July. A giant contraption is being built, which will include a range of experiments, one of which will see one of the show’s presenters, Dr Yan Wong, being dramatically transported across a 2.5m void via magnetism — a method selected by the general public.

Bang Goes The Theory itself is being launched as a landmark family-orientated programme that will use big, fun experiences to explain imaginative, relevant science. You can learn more about the show and its launch project via the Bang Goes The Theory interactive blog, which is updated daily (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/banggoesthetheory/). BBC One has also been releasing a series of short films prior to the live experiment, introducing the presenters and following the progress of the conception, testing, building and trialling of the contraption. A number of videos are already online.

This summer BBC One launches Bang Goes The Theory, a new series that looks at how science shapes the world around us.

From exploring the world’s most advanced technological breakthroughs to learning how we can test and manipulate scientific principles in our own backyard, this series will put scientific theory to the test.

From late July 2009, four presenters – Dallas Campbell, Liz Bonnin, Jem Stansfield and Dr Yan Wong – will pool their knowledge and their curiosity to put science into action in a series co-produced with The Open University (OU). With a PhD, a collection of science degrees and an enduring passion for all things scientific, the four presenters are the perfect group to bring cutting-edge science to the nation.

Jay Hunt, Controller of BBC One, says: “Bang Goes The Theory brings popular science back to the very heart of BBC One. The four presenters have a passion and knowledge for their subject that guarantees to bring science alive in an entertaining and engaging way.”

Dallas Campbell (Gadget Show) is an experienced TV presenter with a passion for popularising science.

Dallas says: “Let’s face it, dream jobs don’t get much dreamier than this. In fact, my left arm is still slightly sore from pinching myself. For anyone who is remotely curious about life, the Universe and pretty much everything, this is the show. In fact, sometimes I wish I wasn’t working on it so I could just sit and watch it!”

Dallas will be joined by Liz Bonnin (Science Friction, RI:SE), a biochemist and wild animal biologist; and Jem Stansfield (Men In White, Scrapheap Challenge) who will turn the team’s imaginative ideas into workable experiments.

Rounding up the group will be Dr Yan Wong (co-author of The Ancestor’s Tale), who will use his academic expertise to demonstrate the fundamentals of science in a weekly segment.

Liz Bonnin says: “Bang Goes The Theory is quite literally my dream job! I get to spend my time finding out about the science that makes our world go round, as well as meeting the people behind incredible discoveries and ground-breaking innovations.

“The icing on the cake is working with Dallas, Jem and Yan who are thankfully as nutty around the edges as I am – I love them to bits. We are truly passionate about science and I hope this show will make our viewers equally so.”

Jem Stansfield says: “All of us on the show have a slightly different take on science and as much as I love the theory, that’s all it is. For me, its making and playing with stuff that gives the clearest insights. On this series I’m lucky enough to have been given a free rein to take ideas from the frontiers of science and to show they can be tested with the stuff that’s hanging around in your backyard.”

Dr Yan Wong says: “I love trying to understand the world around me – there’s so much I still don’t know. We find the world exciting from the moment we are born, and as children we explore it all the time. Now I’ve got the chance to get everyone to do that too. What a brilliant job!”

The team will be based at a high-tech Bedfordshire HQ and will travel the world to test ideas and meet experts from fields as varied as geology, astrophysics, neuropsychology and zoology.

The OU’s academic experts have helped develop the experiments and exploits for the series.

Dr Stephen Serjeant, senior lecturer in astrophysics at the OU, says: “We’ve been delighted and amazed to see the extremes that the presenters are willing to going to go to in order to show science in action.

“Science is so important to our economy and we’re surrounded by inventions and progress, yet sometimes people still feel science is too hard for them. It isn’t! We want to trigger people’s curiosity about the world – that’s what science is all about.”

Bang Goes The Theory is set for transmission in July 2009 (10 x 30-minutes).

The series was commissioned by Jay Hunt, Controller of BBC One.

Bang Goes The Theory will be supported by a website, interactive resources and free events (organised by BBC Learning) to inspire the audience to get hands on with science – more details will be available later this year.

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