Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
An ambitious project to bring the process of decay "to life" is set to be launched this summer by BBC Scotland for BBC Four.
A full-scale, typical kitchen and garden, contained in a purpose-built box, is planned to go on display to visitors at Edinburgh Zoo in August.
Visitors – at the event or online – will be able to witness everyday foods and substances decompose over a two month period in a compelling life-size demonstration of one of nature's most fundamental but least understood processes.
Events in the box will be recorded using the latest technology in time-lapse photography and microscopy for a feature-length programme on BBC Four later in the year. The programme is a co-production with Discovery and BBC Worldwide, and will be screened internationally.
Presenting the programme is Oxford University's Dr George McGavin (Lost Land Of The Tiger), who says: "What myself and the team want to do is reveal the extraordinary science of decay .Nature's ability to recycle the building blocks of life is often overlooked but this process is central to the survival of every species on the planet - without it there would be no cycle of life. I want to show the viewers just how beautiful, elegant and essential the processes of decomposition really are."
The sealed 6m x 6m box is to be constructed by specialist engineers in an enclosed lecture hall, with input from expert scientific consultants. Only approved BBC personnel will be allowed to enter the box, via a double-door system, for filming purposes.
Events in the box will be augmented with specially shot documentary pieces for the programme that explore the wider aspects of decomposition and our attitudes to it. There will also be support for the project from BBC Learning.
Richard Klein, Controller BBC Four, says: "From death comes life. It is a classic contradiction of nature. And our new Afterlife science event offers viewers the chance to observe the compelling and extraordinary world of decay and decomposition to rebirth and new life in vivid, full colour, up-close detail. The fact that we are able to open the process up through an exhibition at Edinburgh Zoo, putting BBC Four at the heart of cultural life, is an added bonus."
Marcus Herbert, Executive Producer of After Life, says: "This innovative broadcasting project is one that the public can really engage with – either at the site or via time-lapse updates online – and we hope they'll find it as fascinating as we do."
Iain Valentine, Director of Animals Education and Conservation at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, comments: "We're very excited about housing this extraordinary project in the public area of Edinburgh Zoo's Budongo House. As decay is an essential component of all life on earth, we felt the zoo was the perfect location to explore the process."
After Life has been announced today as part of BBC Four's new spring/summer season of programmes.
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