Published: 22 September 2015

Physics Professor on BBC 2’s new science panel show

Surrey’s Professor Jim Al-Khalili joined comedians Ben Miller and Hugh Dennis to help demystify science on ‘6 Degrees of Separation’

Professor of Theoretical Physics and Professor of Public Engagement in Science at Surrey, Jim was invited to be part of the pilot episode of the show, which aired on BBC2 on 14 September.

Described by Professor Al-Khalili as “part ‘QI’, part ‘University Challenge’ and part ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’”, the show was hosted by Professor Brian Cox who challenged two teams of high profile scientists – led by comedians Ben Miller and Hugh Dennis – to find scientific connections between six unlikely objects.

The pilot was themed on ‘Making it Digital’, and saw Professor Al-Khalili and anatomist Professor Alice Roberts attempting to make connections between an analogue record player, Galileo, a dung beetle, whipped cream, the inner Earth, and finally, all things digital. Despite a valiant battle, Professor Al-Khalili and his team finally lost 24-26 against their opponents.

“The show wasn’t meant to be competitive – in fact the producer teased me for being too competitive!” says Professor Al-Khalili. “It was great fun to do, especially as I already knew all the panellists so we just had a laugh.”

“It has actually been a long time in gestation as we recorded two previous pilots over the past 18 months before the one that was finally broadcast. It started off as a science unit production, but evolved into one that was a collaboration with BBC entertainment.”

Professor Al-Khalili is a broadcaster and commentator about science in the media, as well as an author of a number of popular scientific books. Among other programmes he has hosted ‘The Life Scientific’ on Radio Four and the BBC 4 documentary series ‘Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity’.

The pilot episode of ‘6 Degrees of Separation’ is available until 18 October on BBC iPlayer.


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