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Author Topic: Can Richard Hammond bring children into science?  (Read 17376 times)

Offline DrN

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Can Richard Hammond bring children into science?
« Reply #25 on: 13/02/2009 22:20:38 »
TV should be to inform and entertain - we've got the entertainment, so where's the information? I agree with one of the earlier comments, Tomorrow's world was brilliant. I also remember Johnny Ball being fantastic when I was young. I used to watch all these types of programmes with my dad, and I really think that's what got me interested in science. And I mean proper science. I don't think Brainiac would have had the same effect - sure, it's entertaining, and it's based on science, but it doesn't really inspire or encourage people to find out more about anything.

I've been to a couple of events at the Dana centre (at the Science Museum in London), and they really are fantastic - often the most interesting nuggets are the applications of fairly mundane scientific discoveries, and learning about how the most off-the-wall types of research can impact significantly on our lives. The one that stands out the most was the 'smell' session a couple of years ago, where we discovered just how many applications an 'electronic nose' may have - including the potential for sniffing out cancer cells. This is how science should be presented on our TVs!
 

Offline daveshorts

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Can Richard Hammond bring children into science?
« Reply #26 on: 16/02/2009 09:33:43 »
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The real issue is that the media, in all it's forms, tries to provide what it thinks people want for entertainment, and in view of it's popularity, it is getting it more right than wrong.  If there's a problem anywhere it is with people in general, who don't want to have to work at their entertainment, perhaps because they've just come home from working all day.

That argument works in the US, as you have a series of purely commercial TV stations who do only have a duty to their shareholders. So they will give people something between what they want and what is easy to give them. But in the UK we have a license fee designed to allow the BBC to give us programs that we need rather than we want, and channel4 is owned by the government and has public service obligations.

Obviously this doesn't mean that they should make programmes which noone wants to watch, but it does mean that they should be putting more effort and airtime into good solid science programmes than the audience would possibly justify.

Instead we have a situation where there is probably less money and airtime devoted to science and technology than the audience demands. Which is probably something to do with the interests and education of the commissioning editors...

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In the end, it really comes down to criticising other people for not wanting to do what we enjoy doing, and who has a right to say what other people should enjoy?

No it comes down to criticising a public service broadcaster who gets a tax in order to not just give people what they want  but what they need, not giving the population as many decent science programs as it needs (or probably wants) to be healthy wealthy and wise.
 

Offline DrN

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Can Richard Hammond bring children into science?
« Reply #27 on: 16/02/2009 21:51:20 »
I agree. Without wishing the BBC to become a government mouthpiece, it does have a responsibility to use our licence fee appropriately.
 

paul.fr

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Can Richard Hammond bring children into science?
« Reply #28 on: 16/02/2009 22:38:03 »
But appropriately to you, them and I are differnet things. Those of you (us) that want or would like more fact based science programming I would say are the minority, the BBC are giving the masses what they want...cheap crappy productions that do not tax or exert and are sprinkled with "celebrities".
 

Offline BenV

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Can Richard Hammond bring children into science?
« Reply #29 on: 16/02/2009 23:31:58 »
TV should be to inform and entertain - we've got the entertainment, so where's the information? I agree with one of the earlier comments, Tomorrow's world was brilliant. I also remember Johnny Ball being fantastic when I was young. I used to watch all these types of programmes with my dad, and I really think that's what got me interested in science. And I mean proper science. I don't think Brainiac would have had the same effect - sure, it's entertaining, and it's based on science, but it doesn't really inspire or encourage people to find out more about anything.

I've been to a couple of events at the Dana centre (at the Science Museum in London), and they really are fantastic - often the most interesting nuggets are the applications of fairly mundane scientific discoveries, and learning about how the most off-the-wall types of research can impact significantly on our lives. The one that stands out the most was the 'smell' session a couple of years ago, where we discovered just how many applications an 'electronic nose' may have - including the potential for sniffing out cancer cells. This is how science should be presented on our TVs!

Our own Meera Senthilingam has been involved in setting some of those up!

I'd agree - I grew up with Johhny Ball (BBC), How2 (ITV), Tomorrows World (BBC), then Scrapheap Challenge (C4), even Time Team (C4)... It's so easy for TV to inspire.

With regards the other discussion - does TV give people waht they need, or what they want - people actually do want more science.  The Eurobarometer Survey in 2000 (not sure if they've updated it on these themes since) showed, basically, that the amount of sport coverage roughly matched the demand, but the amount of science coverage was far below the demand (defined at the number of people saying "I an interested in science and technology" vs the number saying "I feel I am well informed...").  Chris knows more about this, and I'd have to dig out the survey to give you figures.  It would be interesting to sit down with commisioning editors and get their reactions to that survey.

I should add though, that both Hammond and his erstwhile Top Gear colleague James May have both made good engineering series recently, and natural history is, as always, very well served.
« Last Edit: 16/02/2009 23:40:07 by BenV »
 

paul.fr

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Can Richard Hammond bring children into science?
« Reply #30 on: 17/02/2009 10:14:36 »
With regards the other discussion - does TV give people waht they need, or what they want - people actually do want more science.  The Eurobarometer Survey in 2000 (not sure if they've updated it on these themes since) showed, basically, that the amount of sport coverage roughly matched the demand, but the amount of science coverage was far below the demand (defined at the number of people saying "I an interested in science and technology" vs the number saying "I feel I am well informed..."). 

Doesn't it depend on the question ,how it's phrased and how people then interpret the question? A simple yes to the question "I an interested in science and technology" does not mean the person wants to see more of it on the TV.
 

Offline BenV

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Can Richard Hammond bring children into science?
« Reply #31 on: 17/02/2009 13:31:03 »
I'm afraid I can't quite remember the exact wording, but the survey was designed to answer questions about science in the media, so I'm fairly certain they will have worded it less ambiguously than me!
 

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Can Richard Hammond bring children into science?
« Reply #31 on: 17/02/2009 13:31:03 »

 

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