MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

Those behind the idea want to inspire young women to take up science and engineering careers

The creators of the classic 1980s TV series MacGyver are asking fans to come up with an idea for a similar new show. All you’ll need is a pen and paper, a piece of chewed gum, four paper clips, a strip of duct tape and your Swiss Army knife.

MacGyver, which starred Richard Dean Anderson as a mullet-sporting secret agent with the skills to build complex devices from whatever everyday items he had to hand, ran for seven series from 1985 to 1992. Rather than resort to violence, Angus MacGyver saved the day with science.

Now, the US National Academy of Engineering, the University of Southern California's Viterbi school of engineering and the MacGyver Foundation are running a competition to create a new show, inspired by MacGyver, but with one significant stipulation: the main character must be a woman.

The organisers of “The Next MacGyver” contest say they want to produce “the first great TV show starring an iconic female engineer character”, in a bid to inspire young women to take up science and engineering careers.

“I literally could not tell you how many times people have come up to me and said, ‘I became an engineer’ or ‘I went into the sciences’ because of MacGyver,” the show’s creator, Lee Zlotoff, said as he unveiled the competition.

He said he and his fellow organisers were looking for “a female hero that embodies the kind of engineering skill sets that MacGyver had, to inspire young people and particularly young women”.

Official figures show that just 14 per cent of the US engineering workforce is female. In the UK it is just 6 per cent.

The competition is open to entrants from any country, their character can be of any age, race or nationality, and the show can be in any genre.

There is no mention so far of when or on what platform the programme would be broadcast, but entrants must submit a synopsis of a pilot episode via the website thenextmacgyver.com before 17 April.

Five winners will receive $5,000 (£3,240) and the opportunity to develop their script with a Hollywood producer.

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