The Science of Doctor Who

“Hold on to something. Possibly your sanity.”

The Science of Doctor Who

Oh, yes. We’re still on the 50th Anniversary bandwagon, and by God, the BBC’s going to milk it for all that it’s worth.

To be completely fair, The Science of Doctor Who aired at least two weeks ago. But when I did watch it, the BBC was milking the 50th Anniversary for all that it was worth. And if I try writing this review entirely in the past tense something will go horribly wrong and the space-time continuum will explode…

Perhaps I should tell you what on earth I am wittering about. The Science of Doctor Who was a science show not unlike the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, except that the audience being fed a tissue of carefully constructed lies was not a bunch of impressionable children but a gathering of so-called “celebrities” (to put this in perspective, the most famous person there was Charles Dance, and there weren’t even any Doctors). In reality, this only meant that the tissue was made up of slightly more sophisticated lies (say, A-level lies) and that the requisite Audience Participation was slightly less embarrassing than is usual with the RICLs (it turns out that Charles Dance is genuinely funny). Extremely tenuous links were made with Doctor Who throughout, and the whole caboodle was presented by a surprisingly grey Brian Cox (the TV scientist, not the actor).

Topics covered included “Where are all the aliens?” (answer: possibly watching Doctor Who reruns, allegedly), which always annoys me because scientists tend, inexplicably, to judge as-yet undiscovered alien societies by what our single species has achieved; “Can we ever visit the past?” (yes, if you do something stupid involving a black hole); “Is the future unreachable?” (no, you can always jet off to Alpha Centauri at the speed of light). The demonstrations ranged from unimpressive (Black Hole Visitation, I’m looking at you) to rather neat, and everyone’s hearts sank when they realised they had to laugh at stupid celebrity jokes.

Oh, but there was a rather lovely pre-recorded cameo by Matt Smith as the Doctor helping Brian Cox to brighten up his lecture. The whole thing was almost worth watching just for that.


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