17 August 2010, London, UK. The Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures are making a triumphant return to their broadcast home at the BBC, after a ten year break with a demonstration packed, three-part series by renowned engineer and materials scientist Dr Mark Miodownik.
The lecture series, called Size Matters, will air on BBC Four in late December.
The King’s College London scientist will explore the peculiar living and non-living matter that makes up the universe and will ask the eternal question - does size matter? Mark will explain how hamsters can survive falling from an aircraft without a parachute, why our planet is so puny, and explain the extraordinary hidden powers of human hair.
Commenting on the announcement, Professor Chris Bishop from Microsoft Research, who presented the 2008 Christmas Lectures, said: “The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures have inspired generations of young people to become scientists. Microsoft Research is pleased once again to be sponsoring the Lectures, and is delighted at the plans to expand the profile and impact of the lectures this year.”
Gail Cardew, Head of Programmes, said: “The Ri is delighted to have discovered an amazing new talent in Mark Miodownik. We are also thrilled to be partnering with BBC Four to deliver one of Britain’s most treasured Christmas traditions in a new and exciting format.”
The BBC will introduce three hour-long lectures that will enable us to develop a more detailed narrative around each subject.
Filmed in front of a live audience in the iconic theatre at the Royal Institution, the original science events for children were started by Michael Faraday in 1825 and have long been seen as one of the most important events on the scientific calendar.
Since 1825, lectures have been given by many distinguished scientists including Nobel Prize winners William and Lawrence Bragg; Sir David Attenborough, Lord George Porter and Dame Nancy Rothwell.
Chris Rofe, chief executive of the Royal Institution, said: “We were determined to return to the BBC as part of our plans to reinvigorate and refresh the historic Christmas Lectures and ensure that, as our flagship event, they reach the largest possible audience. I am excited to report an increase in funding for the Christmas Lectures this year, the total budget being more than 40% higher than last year, and I would personally like to thank Microsoft Research for their continued and outstanding support of the Ri.”
Richard Klein, BB4 Controller said: “The BBC is delighted to be welcoming the Ri lectures back, and I'm particularly pleased they're going to be on BBC4. The Ri lectures have been part of thousands - if not millions - of peoples' Christmas television watching over the years, and it's a great privilege to now be able to have them on BBC4. We'll be putting the lectures at the heart of our Christmas schedule, and I think they'll also make a great finale to the BBC's Year of Science.”
Cassian Harrison Commissioning Executive, Science & Natural History said: 'I think audiences are going to be fascinated by the content of this year's lectures. Mark Miodownik is great communicator, and his chosen theme - how the simple size of things influences the very shape of the universe in which we live - is compelling in itself, but also leads to all kinds of fantastic stories and revelations which I think anyone, young or old, will find really gripping.'