A new science programme, ‘Dara O Briain’s Science Club’ takes to the airwaves tonight. The BBC show brings together a diverse panel to poke curiously at the world, including the eponymous comic-with-an-astrophysics-degree Dara O Briain, neuroscientist Tali Sharot, science journalist Alok Jha, physicist and oceanographer Helen Czerski and UCL Engineering’s own materials scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik.
We spoke to Mark about his Science Club experiences, and what we can expect from the series.
Could you describe the new series you are taking part in?
It’s science and engineering with a comic twist, a show that’s informative and thought provoking but also entertaining.
Getting the mix right is the hard bit: that’s why Dara O’Briain is such a good choice for the host. With his physics degree and penchant for maths, he balances the rest of the presenters and guests, who are a mix of academics, journalists and comics.
Every week we focus on a single subject and approach it from a myriad of angles. My job in the team is to do the scientific and engineering demonstrations. There is the hugely talented BBC Science team behind the scenes who designed every aspect of the show, and they deserve the credit for creating this new TV science format.
And were you in any science clubs at school?
No, but my dad is a scientist and my oldest brother is a stand-up comic, so in a way it was the perfect preparation for doing a TV series with Dara O’Briain. My older brother is focally challenged too, so it all feels very familar.
What has been your favourite episode (or part of an episode) so far?
I got to go to NASA and put on one of their space suits for a sequence on the engineering of space exploration. It was an incredible honour – and I also got to talk to the engineering team who make the suits.
Any parts for us not to miss?
Every week we have a special expert guest: UCL’s Prof Steve Jones is in episode one, and he gives a masterclass on genetics – he is fab.
The first episode of Science Club airs tonight on BBC2 at 9pm.