Winston fumes at axing of 'Child of Our Time'

Adam Sherwin
Saturday 28 May 2011 00:00
Comments

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".

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

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.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in