Adam Hart-Davis: Why is there so little science on television?

From a speech by the writer and broadcaster at the launch of his new book 'Talking Science', given in Oxford

Share
Related Topics

I recently had the privilege of interviewing 14 top scientists and a fascinating picture emerged. What they really care about is finding out how the world works, and uncovering the secrets of nature. Yes, they wanted to save the rainforest, im- prove health care, or investigate the depths of the oceans and the universe, but in the end they were searching for the truth about life, the universe, and everything, including how we tick.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing 14 top scientists and a fascinating picture emerged. What they really care about is finding out how the world works, and uncovering the secrets of nature. Yes, they wanted to save the rainforest, im- prove health care, or investigate the depths of the oceans and the universe, but in the end they were searching for the truth about life, the universe, and everything, including how we tick.

I wish the general public could share some of the excitement and fascination of science, but sadly the media moguls seem to be against it. Science crops up most often in the news, and often only because of a scare - about vaccination, bird flu, or cloning claims. Television bosses seem to have decided that science is boring and difficult, and not worth putting on the screen.

When I joined Yorkshire Television in 1977 we produced both science documentaries and Don't Ask Me, a studio show with Magnus Pyke, David Bellamy, and Miriam Stoppard. For a dozen years, however, there has been no science on ITV. The BBC, which for decades must have been the best science broadcaster in the world, has axed the major strands QED, Antenna, and Tomorrow's World. Meanwhile Horizon has become a pale shadow of its former self, and when I ask scientists whether they watch it, they generally say "I used to, but not any more. It's changed".

The world is faced with an increasing barrage of scientific questions and opportunities - What should we do about global warming? Is genetically modified food dangerous, or a vital step forward? Are vaccinations safe? There should be public debate on these issues. People want to get involved, to know what the issues really are - and yet there is far too little information on television.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: pours or pores, pulverised, ‘in preference for’ and lists

Guy Keleny
Ed Miliband created a crisis of confidence about himself within Labour when he forgot to mention the deficit in his party conference speech  

The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election

Andrew Grice
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect