Rough Science

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BBC Two (ended 2005)

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6.9
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Rough Science

Show Summary

Rough Science takes five scientists to a remote location where they are set challenges to be undertaken with only basic equipment and whatever they can find or extract from the local environment, although a few special items are sometimes provided. US publicity called it "Survivor meets Junkyard Wars", though Rough Science actually went into production before Survivor. From a British point of view, the show fits into a similar niche to that occupied by the 1980s ratings-winners The Great Egg Race and Now Get Out Of That!, as well as belonging to BBC2's portfolio of "popular science" shows alongside such hits as What The Romans Did For Us and Hollywood Science. The scientists who take on the challenges cover most of the major specializations; the regular team comprises a chemist, a physicist, a botanist, an engineer and a geologist. Rough Science demonstrates how different specialisms can come together to solve scientific problems - or, conversely, how a problem can be solved from more than one angle. What rivalry exists among the scientists is purely of the friendly kind, in fact it's obvious that they're all good friends and their camaraderie is one of the things that makes Rough Science such a success. The team's challenges have thus far always taken place somewhere very hot or very cold. The first series took the original team - including Anna Lewington and Vanessa Griffths, who do not appear in the later series - to a secret island location, and their first task was to work out where in the world they were. For the second series, American Ellen McCallie replaced Lewington as the team's resident botanist, and Kathy Sykes also made her debut, around the same time that she began presenting another series from the same stable, Ever Wondered About Food?. This time the setting was a Caribbean island and the tasks were more technology-based. The third series was a complete contrast. The same team were sent to New Zealand, where they were set tasks on a gold-mining theme. Amid spectacular glaciers, they were set the challenge of finding enough gold to make a piece of jewelery, with four of the six episodes dedicated almost entirely toward this goal. Having used numerous different approaches to find gold (including a search for "buried treasure"!), the team eventually achieved their goal, and the pendant they made was given away in a competition on the Rough Science website. For the fourth series, it was back into the heat. Based near a NASA testing ground on the edge of Death Valley, the team (now including geologist Iain Stewart) faced a series of challenges on the theme of space exploration, with high points including Ellen's "moonwalk" in a spacesuit built from scrap material, and a closing rocket-building challenge with a memorable finale. Note that when shown in the USA, the first two series were combined into one, with the order swapped round so that the second series episodes appeared first. The third and fourth series were similarly combined into a single, 12-episode series when they appeared in the USA the following year. Jonathan Hare's website provided details of filming dates for the various series.moreless
Kate Humble

Kate Humble

Presenter

Kathy Sykes (II)

Kathy Sykes (II)

Herself (Series 2- )

Ellen McCallie

Ellen McCallie

Herself (Series 2- )

Mike Bullivant

Mike Bullivant

Himself (Series 1- )

Anna Lewington

Anna Lewington

Herself (Series 1)

Iain Stewart

Iain Stewart

Himself (Series 4)

Wednesday
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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Fantastic science series

    10
    This is one of the few 'true' science series on television in my view. Rather than trying to be 'sensationalist' as many science programmes are (eg 'supervolcanoes' etc) it just looks at how science helps in our everyday lives, but in a novel way.



    A small group of scientists from various fields (eg physicists, biologists, chemists etc) are taken away from their labs and taken to a building in an 'out of the way' location. There they are given certain tasks by the host, Kate Humble. The tasks may be things such as 'work out where you are' or 'create a portable light source'. They have to solve these problems by using items they find around their location (usually they are based somewhere like a disused mine or something). They are often also given some items which may be useful or essential to solve the tasks.



    The scientists are good at explaining what they are doing and sometimes try to solve the same problem in more than one different way. They don't have all their normal equipment, so you may see Mike Bullivant (the usual chemist) boiling up animal dung in an iron pot over an open fire to extract some chemicals for one of his solutions to a problem.



    It's not presented in a 'teaching' way, but it does teach. And, strangely for many TV science programs, the scientists on it do seem to know what they're talking about most of the time!



    Well worth watching if you get the chance.moreless

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Categories

Game Show, Reality, Science