Available on BBC Iplayer until Friday the 16th November
How did the creation of bicycles enhance human genetic variety? Is sex the best way of moving the species along? Are we related to the Neanderthals? Just three of the selection of questions asked on the new BBC show: ‘Dara O Briain’s Science Club’. Though not extensive, the show gives a good amount of information that is presented in a user-friendly way. O Briain is joined by : Professor Steve Jones a well-known geneticist who self-proclaims to his students how he “makes sex boring”, Alok Jha who asks if the Human Genome Project was truly worthwhile, Tali Sharot who investigates the Epigenome as the future for genetics, Ed Byrne who investigates how Neanderthal he is, and Mark Miadownik who presents a DNA extraction experiment that people can do at home.
Although reading the content, it may look quite confusing or stuffy, Dara O Briain magically transforms and brings interest from what would normally be a generic science show. It’s like his face being on the front cover suddenly adds friendliness. It’s also quite refreshing to see him in a more serious setting, as while his witty nature does shine through; don’t expect the comedy chat show we usually see him in. However, Dara O Briain is a tool, here, to bring science welcomingly to the public eye: which can’t be a bad thing.
One quite confusing part of the show was the sudden reveal of the mechanics of a bicycle. Here I was expecting them to somehow link these inner workings either to sex or genetics, in some fascinating metaphor… but it proved to literally just be a tangent. Did the producers run out of things to include? I mean, sure it was interesting… if poorly linked-in to the rest of the show, but was it really worth a five minute slot? However, most of the content was interesting. It was displayed in a way for the general public to understand. While it deals with some less-known ‘biology’ terminology: such as genome, epigenome and chromosome, it made a point to explain them. You do get a sense of wondering who this show is aiming for, however. It seems a little too basic to be aiming for the scientific community, yet it also warrants a certain type of viewer. It’s not a show you’d watch after wandering home from the pub. It requires a slight interest in genetics, but it also works hard to capture interest by branching and linking genes to other areas (such as stating that the bicycle was the saviour of variety). It was quite pleasing, for example, to see the inclusion of the do-it-yourself experiment where you could extract DNA. This helps make genetics interactive, which I think would do well: especially in younger audiences.
Overall, I think the show is a cleverly planned, interesting science show. The inclusion of Dara O Briain was genius, and shows like this are keys to attracting more people to the realms of science. I would have liked to see a little more interactivity, which might have been generated by a clearer target audience. However, I’ll be sure to join in next week for the next captivating science lesson.