Sunday, December 20, 2009

The elusive RI

By accident I found myself with a couple of hours to spare in London's West End last week, so where better to have lunch than the Royal Institution on Albemarle St.   This wasn't totally by chance - it's been on my 'visits' list since last year when they announced the refurbishment and public opening of Michael Farday's lab, as part of a lottery-funded project.   What I'd forgotten was that early December is when they record the RI Christmas lectures, and this was indeed underway (although I could still get to see the labs in the basement).

Two signs of the times though:

No great fleet of OB vehicles parked outside - all to be seen were a couple of electric vehicles attached to fancy recharging posts (nothing to do with the lectures).   It was all done as a temporary rig in an ante-room to the lecture theatre.

No longer do the RI lectures occupy a peak position in the EPG.   They moved from the BBC some years back, to I think Channel 4 then five:  now they're to be found on more4 - and of course on the web.   At least the programmes are still available somewhere - I'd imagine it's not the easiest of productions to place, or even to produce.   To my eyes there's been a growing disconnect between the pace of science demonstrations to a live audience and the current look of TV - it's possible to bridge between the two, but with more money than I suspect would ever be available to educational TV.

Taking up the challenge this year is furnacetv - and, I was pleased to see on my chance visit, a colleague of mine from long ago, Paul Sen, is producing.   TXs begin tomorrow - Monday 21st Dec.   Set your PVRs to series record because you've got another appointment - see the next mailing!