Re:BBC Sky at Night

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Posted by Martin Mobberley at 11:49 on 2013 Jun 09

I agree 100% with all that Nick has said in his post. The ‘Whizz-Bang’ flashy graphics content of modern science programmes annoys me intensely too. In many cases it seems mandatory to install ‘celebrity’ presenters to simply boost the ratings and in others the science content is so dumbed down to be inaccurate. Then there is this constant obsession with nauseating background music. I presume this musical requirement is drummed into all graduates of media studies courses just as hard as grinning insanely is drummed into North Koreans whenever a picture of Kim Jong-un is displayed?!As Nick has said, the Horizon programmes of the 1980s were a model of how to get it right. The voice of Paul Vaughan was perfect but he never appeared ‘on camera’, ensuring that the programme was about the topic and not simply a battle between rival presenters as to who can get more camera time, crack more jokes and look more insanely happy! When Bill Oddie, Kate Humble and Simon King presented Springwatch and Autumnwatch I could enjoy those programmes, but not anymore. There comes a point in modern TV where the presenters grab so much camera time that the subject matter disappears entirely. Personally, I would say that apart from David Attenborough’s programmes (surely the only presenter in Patrick’s league still surviving) the only TV Physics presenter I can comfortably watch is Jim Al-Khalili. I thought his series ‘Atom’ on BBC4 a few years ago was excellent. A lot of the BBC Natural History programmes are also excellent, at least where they have a high quality narrator, whose voice alone features in the programme, so there is no distraction caused by the attention seeking of a token ‘celebrity’ presenter.As far as The Sky at Night is concerned, well, I can never feel the same way about it since Patrick’s demise and everyone I know feels the same way. I still record it and occasionally skim through the recording, but it can never be the same show without Patrick. For more than 40 years I was an avid watcher, but things can never, ever be the same, despite the hard work of the current presenters.I might shamelessly add, that having researched and written a 330,000 word biography about Patrick, occupying much of my time over the past eleven years [out in August!] I am perhaps more familiar than most with the earliest years of The Sky at Night and Patrick’s desire to keep it a simple and low cost affair…… End of blatant book plug!Martin