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Consider the ratio between the hours of science-based programming that airs on American television networks to the total of hours of programming that exists on a day to day basis. Even the more science heavy of science channels have gone the way of reality TV and sensational series that hold little sway with rational people. And so I jump across the pond to the BBC, where they’ve got two interesting projects coming down the pipe for brainier viewers. In one, brilliant comedian and actor Eddie Izzard invents radar, and in the other, particle physicist Brian Cox explores humanity, no small task.
In Castles in the Sky, Izzard takes on the role of Scottish inventor Robert Watson-Watt, whose work with radar during WWII revolutionized the process and led to victory in the Battle of Britain. One of the most stream-of-consciousness minds in the world, Izzard has transitioned into quite a talented actor, especially in dramatic roles. While this doesn’t exactly sound like the most exciting series I’ve ever heard of, his involvement puts this on the “must check out at least once” list.
Laura Fraser, who played that bitch Lydia in Breaking Bad, will play his wife Margaret, while the rest of the cast is filled out by Karl Davies (Game of Thrones), David Heyman (Sid and Nancy), Alex Jennings (The Queen), and Julian Rhind-Tutt (The Hour). Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) will direct, working from a script written by Ian Kershaw (Shameless).
Check out one of Izzard’s classic riffs on the rifts between science and religion.
Via THR, Izzard stated, “I feel very privileged tobe playing the role of Robert Watson-Watt. Hopefully our production will allow him, along with Arnold ‘Skip’ Wilkins and their team, to finally take their places in the pantheon of British greats of World War II.”
On the unscripted side of things, we have Cox’s Human Universe, a five-episode series that aims to tackle the huge question of what being a human really means. While that might sound like something campers talk about while passing around marshmallows and joints, Cox will undoubtedly have a much sharper and more educated opinion. He has presented some of the most interesting and entertaining shows over the years covering outer space and the planet Earth, with Stargazing Live, Wonders of the Universe, and Wonders of Life.
Cox recently presented the BBC special The Science of Doctor Who, which you can watch below in its entirety while it lasts: