After being involved with the first series of Rough Science the producer Steve Evanson (RS 2 and 3) asked if I would be interested in making a series called Hollywood Science. The idea was to look at classic Hollywood film clip stunts and to consider if, in real life, they could really be done, or if they were just a case of Hollywood Science!

I was working for the Vega trust at the time making films of top scientists and their cutting edge research. We were all worried about the dumbing down of science TV. After filming the Hollywood Science series I wasn't too sure about them, I didn't tell many people at first and wondered if I had done the right thing.

After they were shown on TV I kept getting people coming up to me and asking if I was the person on the Science TV program, I would reply "Yes, Rough Science?" but they would often say "No, the one with Robert Llewellyn", "Oh, Hollywood Science, Yes!"

Over the years I have had so many positive e-mails about Rough Science (which has been repeated and shown in over 90 countries) but I have also had many, many positive e-mails about Hollywood Science and it's only been shown in the UK!

Responding to these e-mails and having time to look back I now see that the programs weren't made for degree graduates or university professors (the only place really were I have had what you might call negative feedback). In some ways they were made for that difficult audience who somehow believe that they don't like science - those people who feel that science is not for them (perhaps because of a bad school experience etc.). I have had so many people say that they don't / didn't like science at school but really liked Hollywood Science and that it inspired them to think about science. As a science communicator that really means a lot to me.

The Open University, Steve Evanson and Mark Bridge the producers of the first Hollywood Science had the vision to realise that this would be a great ways of introducing, inspiring and communicating science to a wider audience. I am now so pleased that they asked me to make the series with Robert.

Of course Hollywood films are not meant to be real life so in some ways we use the clips as 'thought experiments' - i.e. as a dynamic way to get people thinking about science and to stimulate 'back of the envelope type calculations'. Hollywood Science is now one of my most popular science lectures it's got a lot of science (and maths) in it as well!


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Dr Jonathan Hare, The University of Sussex
Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 9QJ.

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