Winston fumes at axing of 'Child of Our Time'

It should have been a landmark science series, which solved the nature versus nurture debate once and for all.

But the presenter Lord Winston has threatened to quit the BBC after accusing the corporation of abandoning Child of Our Time, a project which chronicles the lives of a group of children over a 20-year period.

Winston, the award-winning professor of fertility studies at Imperial College London, has been the face of BBC Science, presenting series such as The Human Body and Walking With Cavemen.

However, he said the BBC had stopped filming Child of Our Time, launched in 2000, which focuses on a group of millennium babies and follows their physical and emotional development as they grow into adulthood.

The series has returned on nine occasions to chart the progress of the 25 children. Lord Winston is unhappy that after a two-part special last May, the BBC has no plans to broadcast an update on the project until 2013.

He said: "I was under the impression they had dropped the series. They have stopped filming as the children reach adolescence. I would have thought puberty was an important stage of development that would produce a valuable, public service programme, provided it's done with everyone's consent."

Lord Winston said he was so upset that, after 30 years' commitment to the BBC, he would be "looking at other outlets". The peer, who is Britain's leading expert on fertility issues, has been usurped as the face of BBC science by Professor Brian Cox, 43, the pop star-turned-physicist who won awards for his Wonders of the Solar System series.

Lord Winston asked: "Perhaps the BBC are preparing the way for someone else to front the programmes?"

Although filming is not currently taking place, the BBC said the project was "very much active and a team is working on it now and working closely with the families".

A spokesman said: "All the children are facing big milestones – starting new schools, becoming teenagers, entering puberty – so we would like to give them some privacy." Some children may not wish to continue being placed under the television spotlight, the BBC added.

The BBC hinted that the programmes, which aim to examine how genes and the environment interact to define our adult selves, could return without Lord Winston, if the Labour peer chose to leave.

Sophie Raworth co-presented The Big Personality Test programmes in the series last year. The BBC said: "It's a 20-year project so there can be changes to the format." It added that it had finite resources and could not possibly film the children year-round.

Through experiments on the participants, Child of Our Time was designed to help answer the question: "Are we born or are we made?" The BBC hoped it would match the impact of the Seven Up series of documentaries, which followed the lives of 14 children born in 1964, at seven-year intervals.

Another BBC science presenter, Michael Mosley, recently won acclaim for his BBC1 series, Inside The Human Body, which covered similar ground to those areas investigated by Lord Winston's The Human Body programmes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices