Press Office

Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

Press Release

BBC Two takes on skies, symbols and space with new formats and presenters

Following a popular and critically acclaimed year-long celebration of science, the BBC – the world's leading science broadcaster – kick-starts a new season of science programming, launching innovative formats, brand new faces for science and challenging prime time subjects on BBC Two.

BBC Two ushers in the New Year (and a new wave of science programmes) with:

  • A three-day live astronomy event where Dara O'Briain and Jonathan Ross join the BBC's favourite particle physicist Professor Brian Cox at one of the world's largest radio telescopes.
  • Marcus du Sautoy brings mathematics to prime time on BBC Two.
  • And this season sees the launch of Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock – one of UK's leading space scientists and a brand new face for BBC Two – in her first landmark piece for the channel.

Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two, says: "Next year BBC Two will build on its factual strategy for 2010 – putting really creative and ambitious series in the heart of the schedule with the best experts and the most passionate advocates.

"In our live Stargazing event, Brian Cox is to be joined by a surprising duo of astronomy enthusiasts, Dara O'Briain and Jonathan Ross, for a live exploration of the solar system.

"Scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is also joining the channel for a programme questioning the moon and the effect it has on our planet; and Professor Marcus du Sautoy will be putting maths at the heart of the schedule for the first time that I can remember, as he goes in search of the mysterious code that governs the world around us."

Stargazing Live, BBC Two

In a live, three-day, stripped event during the first week of January 2011, Professor Brian Cox will be joined by Dara O'Briain as the pair look to the skies to bring the wonders of the stars into our living rooms.

Though he trained as a physicist Dara is secretly a frustrated astronomer – he's been living with an unopened telescope in his attic for as long as he can remember. So, Brian takes Dara on a crash course of the skies, showing him how to spot and take pictures of our sky's marvels. And Brian even finds time to talk to three astronauts currently floating around the International Space Station.

Plus, Jonathan Ross finds out how anyone can be an astronomer, as he's taught Astronomy 101 by the One Show's resident astronomer, Mark Thompson. Over three days, gadget-obsessed Jonathan has to prove that he can navigate the night skies with just a pencil, paper and a humble pair of binoculars.

Based at the world famous Lovell Telescope at the University of Manchester (one of the world's largest telescopes), Dara and Brian take us on a whistle-stop tour across the galaxy as they identify three of January's unusual astronomical events – a partial solar eclipse, the Quadrantids Meteor Shower and Jupiter aligning with Uranus.

As well as coaching Jonathan through the basics of astronomy, Mark Thompson will be on-hand to offer viewers at home tips on how to navigate their own way across the skies. And with Liz Bonnin looking up at the clear skies of Hawaii to explain how the stars affect even us during the daytime, our Stargazing Live team will teach us everything that we've ever needed to know about our skies.

Online, amateur astronomers are being asked to get snapping and get sharing. Brian is asking astronomers of all levels to share their best photographs of the night skies online, to be showcased during the live shows in January. Whether the pictures are of the moon or the planets, galaxies or nebulae, comets or meteors, the Stargazing team would love to see them. To get their pictures featured live, astronomy snappers can send images to or visit for more information.

Free Stargazing Live events will take place across the country to coincide with the broadcast in January. From star parties to sidewalk astronomy sessions, viewers can find an event near them by searching the map at Free resources – including star charts and audio guides – will be available online.

Stargazing Live (3x60) was commissioned by Kim Shillinglaw and is executive produced by Lisa Ausden for BBC Productions.

The Code, BBC Two

In an intriguing three-part series, Professor Marcus du Sautoy goes in search of a mysterious code: the numbers, shapes and patterns that govern the world around us. From the delicate architecture of a butterfly's wing to the startling beauty of the night sky, bizarre numbers are everywhere. The code is the language of existence that explains all before it – from the motion of the planets to the perfect synchronisation of vast flocks of birds.

Marcus will show how the same code that dictates the structure of the Giant's Causeway is also linked to the shape of an insect's eye, and he'll explain how the topography of the Grand Canyon can reveal whether a Jackson Pollock painting is a fake. The code connects all things – you'll never see the world in the same way again.

The Code (3x60) was commissioned by Kim Shillinglaw and is executive produced by Sacha Baveystock for BBC Productions.

Do We Really Need The Moon? BBC Two

The moon is not just a pretty face, a goal for NASA or an inspiration for lovers and poets – it's formed a unique bond with Earth. Without this vital connection, Earth and the life on it would be unrecognisable. Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock (leading British space scientist) looks at the effects of the moon on our planet, and discovers how delicately balanced our relationship is.

Do We Really Need The Moon? (1x60) was commissioned by Kim Shillinglaw and is executive produced by Helen Thomas for BBC Productions and Discovery.

Notes to Editors

Science is at the heart of the BBC. As the world's leading science broadcaster, the BBC creates engaging science programming for all audiences.

Other upcoming BBC science series this winter include the Royal Institution's Christmas Lectures (BBC Four), Megacities (BBC One), Wonders Of The Universe (BBC Two), Robert Winston's Top Ten Advances (BBC One) and Bang Goes The Theory (BBC One).


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