Stargazing LIVE is a total nerd-fest in all the best possible ways. It isn’t often you get to see such unashamed enthusiasm for something “science-y”. Even a definite outsider, someone who found the GCSE immensely confusing and has remained intimidated by a world of facts, wouldn’t fail to enjoy the learning experience of Stargazing LIVE.
“It’s … amazing.”
As a viewer you’re not left lost in confusion within the first five minutes, and it even appeals to fans of the sci-fi narrative (very real potential for life in space, anyone? Did you know that Jupiter has a frozen moon? And that said moon has an ocean flowing beneath its icy exterior?) The show takes topics that some would perhaps feel were beyond them, and makes their discussion so interesting you actually remember them after you turn the TV off. (Seriously, you’ll be telling so many people about that moon thing.)
The show is largely presented by everyone’s favourite northern professor: Brian Cox, the scientist of the show, and Irish comedian Dara O’Briain, as the avid enthusiast. It’s a cute combination if you’re into slightly awkward, oh-God-it’s-live discourse and the constant cutting off of interviewees who, in general, have the decency not to look too annoyed. And actually, Brian Cox really can teach. He’s got the Attenborough hypnosis trick down, and is as captivating as he is informing until you find yourself incredulous that a time existed when you didn’t think that particle physics was important.
While Cox is certainly at the heart of the programme, information comes from all areas. Who can fail to be eternally jealous of Liz Bonnin, sent out to NASA to play with the astronauts; she certainly won the segments’ raffle this series. Not that they don’t let Dara have his fun. Watching him play with the multi-million dollar space shuttle that will be wending its way to Mars (and coming back again! A massive deal we are taught) sometime around 2020 – this was entertainment of another kind.
The show being live, you do perhaps start to wonder what would happen if he broke the contraption mid-programme; the lady from NASA certainly looked a little anxious. And if all these are not awesome enough, there is, of course, the always welcome guest that is Brian May’s hair.
Stargazing LIVE uses a plethora of interesting and varied sources, creating a stream of knowledge the audience can’t help but follow from an enthusiastic desire to add to the new file of information they are developing. For someone like me who has trouble concentrating with shows such as this, building that sense of genuine curiosity is crucial – and in my opinion they capture that perfectly.
So why not take this opportunity to become a budding astronomer? If we do all turn out to be Martians, which Stargazing LIVE teaches us is totally possible, we’re going to be well prepared.
Catch up with the series on iPlayer now.