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Introducing Inside Science

Friday 14 June 2013, 14:55

Mohit Bakaya Mohit Bakaya Commissioning Editor

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Adam Rutherford Adam Rutherford

Radio 4 has always sought to bring listeners the best and most engaging science stories possible, with a range of programmes, from news and documentaries to discussion programmes and debates. Central to our science offering for a long time has been Material World, the weekly science strand ably presented by Quentin Cooper for the last 13 years. While we will continue to have a half-hour science strand running 52 weeks a year, we have decided the time is right to make some changes to ensure the programme meets the demands and expectations of the Radio 4 audience into the future. We have been evolving our science offering over the last few years as we move beyond celebration of science to a deeper understanding of it. Among the programmes we have introduced are The Life Scientific, The Digital Human, Inside Health and The Infinite Monkey Cage. Inside Science – the programme replacing Material World – is part of this evolution.

Presented by Dr Adam Rutherford, Inside Science will be an authoritative, in-depth and enjoyable guide to science and the way that it is changing our world. It will keep the audience abreast of important breakthroughs in science, explore in depth some of the news stories that can get oversimplified elsewhere and work through implications of scientific discovery for society at large. It will mark significant developments within the various scientific disciplines and try to help the audience better understand the scientific process. The show will also share the wonder, passion and excitement of science by telling some of the great science stories that are out there. 

Professor Alice Roberts and Dr Lucie Green will share presenting duties with Adam, hosting some programmes later in the year. The presenter team continues Radio 4's commitment, following Brian Cox, Jim Al-Khallili and Mark Porter, to presenters who work inside science and medicine. The new title reflects this, allows the programme to be more easily located online and brings it into line with other science programme titles like Inside Health.

The new programme will be pre-recorded on the day of transmission to give the production team more flexibility in order to get the best guests and experts from the scientific community and present the most important material to listeners. From 4th July, Inside Science will air on Thursdays at 4.30pm and will be repeated at 9pm the same evening.

I would like to thank Quentin for his years of dedication to science on Radio 4 and look forward to working with him on other projects in the future. In the meantime, I would like to welcome Adam, Alice and Lucie on board. I hope you enjoy the new programme.

 

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 41.

    I moved to New Zealand 12 years ago, shfting from the UK science system to the New Zealand one. Being in a small distant country I try to keep in touch with global science developments. In my opinion there is no equivalent science news progam anywhere, in any format, with the same quality or as well presented as MW. I am dismayed to see the end of this globally relevent service. I really hope 'inside science' is an adequate replacement.

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    Comment number 42.

    I'm stunned to learn that Material World has been cancelled. This is my favorite podcast/program of all time. The science covered is cutting edge, with hard hitting analysis and questions. Try getting that on NPR science programs, which are snooze fests, or on the Science or Nature podcasts, which are corny and throw softball questions.

    Quentin Cooper's ability as a science host is unequaled on any habitable planet, known or unknown. It will be impossible for any new science program to be even half as interesting as Material World... BBC, you have screwed this one up, royally.

    I listen to Material World as a podcast on my road trips. It makes the miles fly by. I'm going to miss the show greatly.

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    Comment number 43.

    Got it wrong again Radio 4.

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    Comment number 44.

    After discovering Material World a couple of years ago, I have been recommending it to friends, describing Quentin Cooper as a hidden gem of the BBC. As an earlier commentator noted, you really became aware of Mr Cooper's exceptional interviewing abilities when he was absent & a guest presenter took over.

    I've always been impressed by the breadth of his knowledge & his incisive questioning; he was never bamboozled or diverted by an interviewee. To now learn that the programmes were broadcast live has raised my admiration to new heights.

    I only have a limited amount of time for listening to podcasts &, much as I like Alice Roberts & Lucie Green as presenters, I won't be bothering with Inside Science.

    To sum up my view of Material World: I came for the science, but I stayed for Quentin Cooper.

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    Comment number 45.

    Well done Radio 4. You just decommissioned the science program with arguably the deepest content, broadest appeal and best presentation on the channel. I would also expect it to be one of the better value programs to produce given its format. I hope someone within the BBC questions the judgement of the relevant Radio 4 commissioning editors in this case (paragraph 2 of the blog entry is a already pretty accurate description of Material World).

    I would like to thank Quentin Cooper for his excellent journalism, presentation style, wit and for also taking the time to research his material so thoroughly.

    Like many other contributors, I simply don't understand why Material World is not retained. If you want to produce additional content, then produce it and schedule it alongside something else that already works. The field is so vast there is no lack of content! If it's not broken - don't fix it.

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    Comment number 46.

    I can only echo what Richard s says above. Quentin Cooper is a brilliant interviewer who managed to get academics to explain what they are doing in reasonably simple terms. His in-depth knowledge of different science topics seemed to be encyclopaedic (or else his homework was extremely thorough). I'm shocked that the BBC is so careless as to let go one of its best live radio presenters.

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    Comment number 47.

    The interview with Ms. Cohen on Friday’s ‘Feedback’ (See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006slnx ) didn’t solicit any logical explanation to justify the removal of Mr. Cooper. Why doesn’t her thesis apply to Woman’s Hour? Why hasn’t WH been revamped and the WH presenters replaced? What was Ms. Gwyneth William’s role in this reorganisation? If Ms. Cohen has a mission, then what is it? Were MW’s listening figures diminishing because of Mr. Cooper’s broadcasting style? I don’t recall Ms. Cohen and her colleagues supporting (identifiably) the R4 science meesageboards (and their variations) during all the years that I was posting. And what of all these mysterious women who work within the science unit? Surely some of them love radio and could develop into respected presenters? Why do serious radio listeners have to end up with TV stars?

    I can’t recall the name of the R4 science programmed that was axed several years ago (broadcast around 1500hrs - the name Prof. Ian Stott comes into my mind. Apologies if I have the wrong name), but it was one of the most competent and accurate programmes that I had ever heard in my life – yet R4 axed it. Listeners would write into the programme with scientific related questions. The responses were always beautifully researched and always accurate.

    Just not sure why R4 has such a poor grasp of science and engineering related programmes. The disagreement between Lord Bragg and Prof. Patricia Hudson on IOT would have made the basis of a good radio programme (Lord Bragg – causality (wave-like argument ; Prof Hudson – co-existence (particle-like argument). What about Prof. Hudson as Reith Lecturer presenter on the Industrial Revolution?

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    Comment number 48.

    How stupid - Material world was great as was its presenter. BBC mucking about for no other reason than to justify their dept heads wages. what a waste.

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    Comment number 49.

    What a terrible shame to lose Quentin and Material World. Just pause and consider what you had in this presenter: great wit, expertise, clarity, enthusiasm, the Everyman touch. In some of the less obviously 'sexy' science themes covered over the years, it was positively a Midas touch. To complete the success story, he also had an army of fans out there - me and everyone I know included. This decision to axe him is terribly short-sighted, and fills me with anger and sorrow in equal measure.

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    Comment number 50.

    Thanks to @47 for sharing the Feedback link. I'm not sure they were talking about the same Material World that I have been listening to. It was a wonderfully varied and informative programme - there is more content in a five minute piece on Material World than an hour of Horizon - and Quentin is a thoroughly entertaining and engaging presenter and interviewer. It and he will be much missed each week. Inside Science has a tough act to follow.

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    Comment number 51.

    Quentin, a great injustice has been done. You will be sorely missed (I was amazed to learn that the programmes were recorded 'live'!) I look forward to seeing if 'Inside Science' can fill the gap but honestly, you were (and hopefully will continue to be in some capacity) a class act. Your insightful, intelligent and witty (puns aside) commentaries contrast perfectly with the corporate drivel used to justify the removal of Material World. Deeply saddened and will miss your presence.:(

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    Comment number 52.

    Material World presented by Quentin Cooper is - now sadly was - simply the best audio popular science program. I subscribe and listen to many podcasts, a fair share of them about science, and have always been amazed by the amount of information that Quentin has managed to elicit from his guest, the depth and breadth of his knowledge that has come across in his questions and - yes, I admit it - I have always enjoyed the way his comments and awful puns made me chuckle.
    I agree with the all the other comments puzzled about this decision by the BBC and am very disappointed.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 53.

    I am stunned; here you have a live science programme with a virtuoso presenter who unerringly asks the very question that popped into my mind and whom the interviewees obviously relish enthusing to about their latest research. The only programme on the BBC or anywhere that lets the public eavesdrop on the way scientists talk to one another. And you cancel it?

    What a disservice to science reporting and education you are doing by this ill-supported action. Cancel the asinine Infinite Monkey Cage (did ever a title so accurately fit the content?) and reprieve the excellent Quentin.

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    Comment number 54.

    Although i wish no ill feeling upon this new presenter and what he may offer to the field of scientific communication, i feel I must express both my disbelief at Quentin´s Radio 4´s public influence coming to an end and the gratitude that I owe him for the influence he has had on my career.

    Since entering the scientific community I have found the institution to be stuffy, jargon filled, selfish, uncooperative and often very greedy with it´s personal information. After finishing with a promising degree in Marine Biology at Glasgow University this year I still find myself running into literary barriers when reading papers that are entirely relevant to every aspect of my degree due to over–complications in text or lack of explanation in technique. Over the past few year, through discovering Quentin´s program, i have often found sweet relief from my indignations through well explained, entertaining and informative scientific communication. In a world where almost all journals are locked behind pay barriers and even those which are accessible can be as legible as cantonese to your average European, it is essential to have people like Quentin acting as a babel fish in the ears of all those without PhDs in the original authors particular field.

    Although i cannot speak for the vast majority of the general public, I feel confident in representing a broad spectrum of budding young scientists (many of which either originally recommended Material World and or continue to do so on a regular basis) when i say that shows like Quentin´s are a breath of fresh air in a dusty institution that will continue to require more ingenuitive and abstract minds as the anthropogenically induced environmental problems continue to pile up over the coming years. Put simply, removing Quentin from the scientific discussion may leave a deficit in a younger audience that will be very difficult to replace.

    I myself, having just gained a degree and being only 22 years of age, am currently running a community based conservation expedition in the East of Iceland which i have set up off my own back through the realisation that the best way to put forth an scientific ideal is to communicate the importance of your work to local people in a format that they can understand, relate to and realise what consequence their involvement may have upon both their own lives and the lives of other around them. I firmly believe that without developing a friendly understanding with your audience, change will never happen soon enough and this point i feel confident in contributing towards years of listening to the most enthusiastic scientific communicator in radio.

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    Comment number 55.

    Thanks to Quentin for a great programme. Like most of the commentators here I cannot understand the reasoning for what is being done. You say you want 'practicing scientists' but for a general programme on science the presenter will only have a narrow background, so surely a gifted amateur like Quentin is a better bet? After all by this logic, you ought to give David Attenborogh the push as well and something tells me that's never going to happen. Please re-think this decision.

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    Comment number 56.

    Why on earth have you got rid of your best presenter on radio four?!!!! Quentin Cooper is a wonderful presenter who brings humour and wit to a serious subject. He has made the subject of science interesting and his quick responses and sharp questioning makes the programme what it is,a very very good programme!!!! I listened to The Infinet Monkey Cage yesterday and realised why you got rid of Quentin because you obviously want celebrity's from the world of science and comedy just drivelling on and on! Bring back Quentin who related to me / us as you know he is hip to music, books and what's happening now and asks very perceptive questions that we understand and he gets answers we understand too, bring him back now!!!!!

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    Comment number 57.

    I will miss Quentin, and MW, but Adam is brilliant in conveying the science to the public, and as an editor for Nature is also qualified to do so. I only hope that the quality of the content is not diminished to entice a broader audience.

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    Comment number 58.

    Quentin is one of the most able, intelligent and entertaining science presenters. I hope he isn't away from presenting too long. I would like to agree strongly with Declan's comment, 'Please don't dumb down the content...'. There's plenty of trivialised science on the radio and TV; we don't need more.

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    Comment number 59.

    I am gutted.Quentin is a gifted, clever, excellent presenter and bloke. I wish I could buy him a pint for all the puns, alliteration, and elucidation he brought to my listening. the Beeb will not find anyone to match him. the high water mark has indeed been reached. thanks again Quentin, thanks for nothing, so-called programmers.

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    Comment number 60.

    It hadn't registered with me before (otherwise I'd have mentioned it in #29), but the last edition of Leading Edge (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006wj9b) was on 26th November 2009. 4 days later the first edition of The Infinite Monkey Cage was broadcast. That was a major dumbing down of Radio 4's science output.

    Hopefully that's not going to be the case when Inside Science replaces Material World next week.

 

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