New BBC TV Series -”The Cell”

multimedia_0043I don’t know how I missed this, I don’t watch a lot of TV (and most of what I do watch is Cbeebies, but that’s another story…) The BBC are airing a new, short (3 episode!) series called “The Cell“.  It is about the scientific attempt to study the building blocks of life, in all their complexity.  For me cell biology is the most interesting part of biology, especially human cell biology. So what about the rest of biology…

Ecology – What grasses grow on a sand dune. Not interested.
Virology – Tiny nasty things that can kill you. Nope, too dangerous.
Genetics – Dd x dd = Dd, dd, dd?? Too complicated for me…
Biochemistry – NADH+ something else goes to NAD + H. Way too complicated for me…
Paleontology – Scraping dust out of a field. Too boring.
Microbiology – Bugs that can kill you or make you sick. Too many different types of bug to remember
Biophysics – Energy, Enthalpy, Entropy, Delta G? I have no hope of ever understanding any of it.

Cell Biology – Signal transduction pathways, cell skeletons and cell motors, genes and transcription factors, RNA and DNA.  Proteins, diseases. Wonderful, interesting, fascinating, complicated stuff!

Okay, I will admit to being a bit biased here, my PhD was in Cell Biology so you would expect me to have more than a passing interest, but cell research is where it is all at.  It doesn’t matter what disease you want to study, any type of cancer, AIDS, diabetes, arthritis, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, motor neurone disease. You name it somewhere along the line a cell, protein, gene or RNA is at fault.  If you understand cell biology you can study any of these diseases, the techniques are all the same.  The cells you are working on might be different but that is the fun part, working out which differences are important. (If we knew the answer, it wouldn’t be called research…)

Anyway, as you can tell I’m rather chuffed that there is some mainstream programming devoted to the cell, which incidentally was produced by BBC Scotland.

The first episode was called “The hidden kingdom“.  You have 9 days left to catch it on iplayer.

The second episode was called “The Chemistry of Life“.  You can watch it on BBC4 tomorrow (Tuesday 25th at 8pm) or catch it on iplayer if you don’t have BBC4

The final eposoide is called “The Spark of Life“, it is on BBC4 on WEdnesday the 26th at 9pm (and again on Thursday the 27th of August 2009).  It’s also on iplayer.

If you’ve watched the series please let me know what you think?  Is cell biology important? Should the BBC bother making these programs? Feel free to leave you comments below. Thanks.

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9 comments to New BBC TV Series -”The Cell”

  • jekilfoy

    Absolutely fabulous and mind blowing.

  • jekilfoy

    absolutely fabulous and mind blowing

  • Avril

    Yes, I think so too, but I suppose I am biased!

  • Loved the 3 part series that brought me up to date on what we know about the cell and the history of how we got to know what we do today.

    I’m not a biologist, actually a software developer, and this series gave an insight into how the cell unit plays its part in the community of an organism, using DNA based triggers specific to it on the DNA instructions template to be found in it’s nucleus to build the proteins relevant to it’s chanced upon role.

    The problem with most science programs like this is often that they tell you something about what we often already know but don’t indicate where we are now – what we don’t know & what we’re trying to find out at the moment.

    Other problems are that the programs don’t go into enough depth assuming the viewer isn’t ready to understand the content which is rather patronising of the UK population as a whole & is a mistake.

    The above were not a problem with this mini series – I wish there was more like it at this level of detail and expertise on BBC TV on other scientific topics.

  • Avril

    Glad you liked it. I’m a biologist and I wish I knew a lot more about developing and maintaining websites! Ben Goldacre is a doctor who writes about science, he has a blog, there was a discussion in April 2009 about the dumbing down of science, especially on tv (the comments are as interesting as the post). I think you’ll find a lot of people agree with you on the patronising front.

    For a technical but really good discussion of how difficult it is to develop new drugs, have a read of “jargon will save us all “at In the Pipeline. I wrote a post awhile back about what we don’t know about breast cancer.

  • Rodentratty

    Great series, I enjoyed all 3 progs. I hope the Beeb do a re-run or maybe a DVD please?

  • Avril

    Glad you enjoyed it, sadly I couldn’t find it listed on the BBC Shop.

  • I fear how my life would have been if there were no tv shows.

  • Cancer Encompasses Many Different Conditions And Areas; Non Small Cell Lung Cancer Is The Most Common Cancer Of The Lungs.

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