Boffins on the box

Dr Who: The dotty professor. The quintessential absent-minded scientist. Although Dr Who was, of course, primarily a Time Lord, he represented science and progress, especially in the white hot 1960s. The character's enduring charm is in his eccentricity, however

Brains from `Thunderbirds':

The backroom boffin. The name Brains has entered the English language for any high-foreheaded geek with over-sized specs - but the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson puppet, who decked out all the Tracy's aircraft in the latest technology, was representative of a type. He was the backroom boffin, diffident in speech and uncomfortable (my, those eyes used to roll about) in taking the foreground.

Incredible Hulk: The Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde. Robert Louis Stevenson's story lived on in mild, compassionate scientist Dr David Banner, who accidentally injected himself with an overdose of gamma rays during an experiment. When angered, Dr Banner would suddenly develop pea-green pecs and a terrible haircut.

Charles Dance: Dr Frankenstein, I presume. The Frankenstein myth of the wayward, even evil, genius reared its head again in BBC1's 1988 warning on the perils of genetic engineering, First Born. Charles Dance played the deranged geneticist with the godlike mission to improve the human race. Instead, he produced a human-gorilla hybrid called Gordon.

Quantum Leap: The feelgood scientist. A rarity this one - especially as Scott Bakula was so, well, normal. Like a clean-cut Dr Who, his brilliant but flawed physicist was doomed to travel in time - albeit in the dates of his own lifetime, which allowed for endless baby-boom nostalgia. The science was, in fact, fairly irrelevant.

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