As of last week ITV has a science entertainment show! I know! Shocking right? This from the channel that regularly brings you live testicle-eating on I’m A Celebrity. But science is having a moment right now (which I can show with graphs and equations stems directly from Professor Brian Cox’s beautiful hair), so why the hell not? Science isn’t the preserve of the BBC alone.
Stand-up comic Romesh Ranganathan, Countdown mathematician and general cleverclogs Rachel Riley, and comedian and actor Ben Miller seem on paper to be a strange selection of presenters, but they all have maths and science backgrounds. And they were all sparky and enthusiastic. Even their Top Gear style banter seemed quite natural. You can tell Rachel Riley has been taking notes after working with Jimmy Carr – her comedy timing is on point!
Highlights from the first episode were Rachel diving through fire on a zip line, Romesh getting tackled by an enormous rugby player, and Ben Miller using the power of Joey Essex’s brain waves to power a car. Joey Essex, who surely plays up his stupid character for tv and isn’t really like that (please God!), who says “So the sun is made of electric?”. Maybe he could present a spin-off show in the style of Philomena Cunk (comic creation of the incomparable Diane Morgan) because he must be filled with childish wonder at the world on a daily basis.
In the style of Brainiac: Science Abuse and MythBusters this show is not difficult to follow, and you won’t be boning up on your University Challenge answers by watching it. But if it makes the viewer say “Wow!” then I’m all for it. Science engagement is a real concern, especially among girls and young women who are still unrepresented in science and engineering. The Telegraph reports “just 13 per cent of science, tech, engineering and maths workers are women”. Telly can play a part in showing that science is cool, helping to foster a love for fixing things and/ or blowing things up that can last a lifetime.
So in short, maybe we should all be a bit more Joey, or Philomena for science.
It’s Not Rocket Science is available to watch on itv.com