In October of this year I start presenting a new science programme on BBC Radio 4. It will be on every Tuesday at 0900 – a fantastic slot just after the Today Programme. In fact, the hope is that this will become a long-running fixture on R4 with around 30 or so episodes a year, so that the Tuesday 9am slot becomes associated with it. Just think what else is on at that time throughout the week: on Monday it’s Start the Week, Wednesday it’s Midweek, Thursday is In Our Time and Friday it’s Desert Island Discs. Tuesday is the only day without a recognised fixture.
The new controller of Radio 4, Gwyneth Williams, has been absolutely key in getting this programme commissioned – well, she’s the boss, right? Anyway, what is so fantastic is that Gwyn is very keen to get more science on Radio 4 and for science to continue its rapid move into mainstream culture – for instance, The Infinite Monkey Cage, presented by Robin Ince and Brian Cox, recently won a Sony Award.
So, what will the programme be about and why do I need your help?
The first thing to say is that this will not be like In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, nor will it be like Material World, the excellent science magazine programme presented by Quentin Cooper. We have already recorded two pilots for the new series, differing in format, so that the powers that be in the BBC can decide on the style, format and flavour of the programme. At the moment, a very rough way of explaining what it is about is that it is like Desert Island Discs, without the discs. Each week, I will be talking to a different prominent figure from the world of science (by which I mean ‘science’ in its broadest sense: natural science, maths, engineering, technology, medicine and social science). There wil be Nobel Prize winners, shakers and movers, advisers to governments, writers or just fascinating people who have made a contribution to our understanding of the Universe. So, whereas Kirsty Young might ask her guests on DID something like ‘tell me why you never got on with your father’, I might ask ‘tell me where you were when you first had that Eureka moment that led to your scientific breakthrough’, or some such thing.
So, here’s the thing: we still don’t have a title for the programme!
We have come up with ideas like ‘Latitude‘, ‘The Life Scientific’, ‘This Scientific Life‘, ‘Science Talk‘. I even suggested ‘Curious Minds‘ but it was pointed out to me that that is the strapline for the whole of Radio 4: “Radio for Curious Minds”. Although it would be kinda nice to have the programme title reflect so perfectly the ethos of the network.
So, ideas please: either below in comments or tweet them to me (@jimalkhalili) with the hashtag #radio4sciencetitle
I thank you.
P.S. Apparently I am not allowed to offer a prize if a title is used but I will certainly publicise who came up with it if you are happy for me to do so.