BBC Sky at Night

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    Posted by Phillip Hudson at 18:47 on 2014 Jan 11

    Perhaps its time for something different because simply (as as been stated) The Sky at Night" isn’t the same without Patrick Moore. I was certainly a fan of his


    Posted by Phillip Hudson at 16:59 on 2014 Feb 10

    The latest edition of the Sky at Night under the new format was really very good and hope it continues


    Posted by Paul A Brierley at 18:48 on 2014 Feb 10

    I’ve just seen Sky at Night. I was also impressed.I thought the content was better, and it was good seeing Pete and John.I thought the item on Ison was good, but why didn’t they mention Lovejoy?


    Posted by Nicholas Evetts at 22:08 on 2014 Feb 10

    I just watched it on iPlayer I’ve watched Maggie in other things – she is very intense when talking Science and yes she reminds me of Patrick when discussing topics close to the heart so a thumbs up from me ……So far the show seems to be returning to serious science. Chris comes over as a Prof who is enjoying the lecture he is giving these days


    Posted by Steve Holmes2 at 23:45 on 2014 Feb 11

    I agree that, overall, the "revamped" version was very good. I liked the way it was explicitly divided up into sections by use of the "Sky At Night" title, and the sections themselves certainly covered some excellent and high-quality material. However, I think Pete Lawrence’s guide to the skies was perhaps a little too basic, as almost all the information has been covered many times before. Still, we’ll see what subsequent programmes bring.As to the presenters, while I am not his greatest fan I must say that Chris Lintott is certainly growing into his "anchorman" role. But then we come to Dr Aderin-Pocock. I am, of course, somewhat biassed as far as she is concerned (see the forum topic "Do We Really Need The Moon") but even so I felt she looked (and, judging by her body-language, felt) completely out of place – as she did on Stargazing Live. One might call her style "intense" but equally accurate would be "gushing". While Sir Patrick was definitely "enthusiastic" in his delivery at times, one could be confident this was based on real enthusiasm rather than the "oh – wow, isn’t this cool" approach we seem to get from Dr A-P. Also, one always felt that Sir Patrick knew exactly what he was talking about. Chris also seems to give this impression, but I have severe doubts about Dr A-P. Her delivery felt more as if she had simply swotted up a few "populist sound bites" to throw into the articles. I was relieved that she wasn’t used more but the flip-side to that is – what exactly was her contribution to the programme? One could have re-dubbed the voice-overs and edited her out of a few scenes and the casual viewer would hardly have noticed.So – a great start but not 10 out of 10 yet.Steve Holmes


    Posted by Grant Privett at 21:50 on 2014 Feb 12

    Watched it this evening. I must say it seemed to "flow" fairly well and did a passable job of combining science and popular appeal. Hopefully, it will do well.That said, I did find Dr Aderin-Pocock’s presentational style rather offputting. Is her presentation always like that? I’ve not seen her before. Her voice overs were fine, but when she was presenting to camera I found myself thinking that a monocle would appear at any moment. I don’t mind lightning fast presenters, but the diction needs to be there – something Dr Moore sadly lacked in his later years – combined with real content. Regular "Wow, isn’t the universe impressive!" declarations just don’t cut it for me. By contrast, the lady presenting the item on Jupiter was far more measured. But then again I’m a grumpy 50 something and so probably not in the demographic the Beeb are seeking to attract.


    Posted by Steve Holmes2 at 23:12 on 2014 Feb 12

    Yes – I’m afraid Dr A-P’s presentation style is always like that. You’ve done yourself a favour if you’ve not come across it before! As well as the infamous ‘Do We Really Need The Moon’ she presented a fairly recent programme on earth satellites (which is at least something she should know a bit about) which was equally breathless and rather dumbed-down. As was commented in the DWRNTM topic, her "science populariser for schools" background does rather show through.There is no doubt that Dr Helen Czerski (the "Jupiter lady") or Dr Lucie Green (as seen in the previous incarnation of ‘The Sky At Night’) would have made an infinitely better job of co-presenting than Dr. A-P, but maybe they didn’t want the job. Even the ubiquitous Liz Bonnin would have been a better choice!Still, let’s hope the new batch of programmes maintains the standard the first one did well to set, and that Dr A-P is kept well in the background to avoid giving her and us any further embarrassment.Steve Holmes


    Posted by Terry Byatt at 20:13 on 2014 Feb 16

    I just wish Dr John Mason was the main presenter of the new Sky at Night. He was a guest of Patrick’s on several episodes and would be perfect for the job (BBC please note!).


    Posted by Grant Privett at 21:23 on 2014 Feb 16

    It isnt the BBC’s job to keep us happy. Even if the whole BAA membership and Astronomy Now readership watched every episode it wouldnt be enough people to keep the programme viable. So I cannot see them feeling any need to satisfy our wish for a speaker popular with us – and wouldnt it be fun trying to get everyone to agree on one.They are seeking to create bigger audiences from the 99.9% of the population who are not astronomers. They target people, children often, who have some casual interest in the subject and are willing to be entertained and informed for a while. This may involve less well informed presenters, snazzy graphics, some background music and what we might consider dumbing down. But that is the reality. That the old format Sky at Night lasted as long as it did was a miracle. We have enjoyed a privileged 30 years purely because Dr Moore was viewed as a great British eccentric.Were the BBC fielding a programme on stamp collecting, train spotting or gravestone rubbing that was watched by tiny audiences, we wouldnt think our licence fee was being well spent. We need to be realistic.


    Posted by James Fraser at 16:03 on 2014 Feb 17

    Not sure if the link will work here but Chris and the team have recently started a hopefully regular google+ hangout which also appears on youtube. I feel that this is a very positive step – it reminds me of the long studio discussions that made the old show so special. Some good astronomy to be found there.


    Posted by Steve Holmes2 at 15:51 on 2014 Feb 19

    In reply to Grant’s recent post, while I would agree that it is not the BBC’s remit to keep the membership of the BAA and the readers of Astronomy Now happy, it is very much in their interest to ensure that the programmes they make are as good as they can be, within the usual budgetary and air-time constraints of course. This can, in part, be achieved by recruiting excellent presenters and showing excellent content, which is of course what the original Sky At Night was very good at.However, I can’t agree that the BBC is trying to recruit extra viewers for Sky At Night from the bulk of the population by means of the recent re-vamp – this seems to have been much more the remit of Stargazing Live, for which the use of "populist" presenters and a rather more basic treatment of the material was entirely appropriate, and several recent Horizon episodes. Surely you don’t put a programme on BBC4 (usually considered a more "highbrow" channel than BBC1 and BBC2) if your intention is to lower its intellectual level? On BBC4, TSAN is up against many programmes with content which would usually be considered "difficult", with presenters who are acknowledged experts in their field or are known for presenting (mostly) adult-targetted (often) science-based programmes seriously and with a high level of competence. I am thus somewhat less pessimmistic than Grant in his assessment of the BBC’s motives. That doesn’t mean to say I am yet entirely happy with the way they are progressing these motives in the case of TSAN though!In response to Terry Byatt, I suspect that the problem with Dr John Mason (and many other TSAN guests of his standing) is that he is male and of "a certain age"! Even if he (or other contenders) turned out to be willing to do it – by no means certain, given his/their other interests – there might be a feeling in the upper echelons that he/they would not be improving the profile of the programme. As previously mentioned, I would strongly support the introduction of young(er) female presenters, of whom there are several strong candidates. Just make sure they can present in a convincing style and at least give a good impression that they know what they are talking about! (as opposed to Dr A-P).Steve Holmes

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