Planet Earth II – The revenge of the surf.

It’s impossible not to be impressed by Sir David Attenborough hot-air ballooning two miles above the planet to open the second series of Planet Earth. I fell in love with the first series, from the Sigur Ros anthem to the outstanding aerial photography (the vast herds filmed from far above the surface using the latest stabilised camera technology of the time but mounted on a helicopter). This new one starts in impressive fashion with barnstorming music and a very effective juxtaposition of two mating island-dwellers: the lethargic swimming and tree-climbing prowess of the pygmy sloth with the ferocious and bloody battles of the dragons of Komodo.

Graceful and sedate. Swimming technique is much like mine. (BBC)

[Spoilers :)] We then move via a never stopping camera past the lemurs of Madagascar to the Galapagon Islands of TERROR. My heart has only just calmed down. I was enjoying the beautiful shots of the turtles and the marine iguanas snorting salt water from their nostrils when all of a sudden the fastest knot of racer snakes appears from nowhere. These constrictors appear to defy the laws of physics as they burst across the gravelly sand to make meals of equally fast hatchling iguana. Incredible filming and timing make this the first outstanding scene of the series.

But the truly terrible scenes are the ones where island species are finding it impossible to adapt to sudden changes brought on by human intervention (for example the ant invaders destroying the red crab natives of Christmas Island). Attenborough reminds us that isolation for islanders means new challenges make it much more likely for these species to become extinct.

The programme finishes with epic vistas of an almost untouched (by humans) Antarctic volcanic island and the one and a half million penguins that live, thrive and survive upon it.

A brilliant first episode, that includes the obligatory video diary at the end, which documents the “penguin paradise” including the ethical dilemma of leaving the penguins to tackle the southern battering ocean without help despite the pain of seeing the bloodied wounded hobble past them

***** (especially as the trailer for next week’s episode had the strains of Hoppibolla playing over it).


Science TV and Radio 2016: StarGazing Live

Almost 4 weeks ago a Soyuz rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. This flight was special to those of us in the UK as it was carrying the first British Astronaut to visit the International Space Station, Tim Peake. My computer science class were invited to stay in with me during break to watch the launch; they all did.

There was a special pair of episodes of StarGazing Live on the 15th to accompany the launch, hosted by Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain from the Science Museum.

Over the holidays were the brilliant Christmas lectures about How to survive in space, which picked up Tim Peake’s story, hosted by Dr Kevin Fong. Please watch and encourage your students to – they were really very good and included contributions from Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut as well as other astronauts who have been to the ISS.

Continuing on this week there are going to be 4 episodes of Star Gazing Live – Tuesday to Friday at 9pm on BBC Two, with Dara, Brian and Tim O’Brien from Jodrell Bank. The Friday episode is a late addition to the schedules as Tim Peake is due to be doing a space walk so the programme is going to be reporting on that.

I hope you encourage your students to watch these programmes this week as they are reporting on a significant event in UK science.

In other news – I am building back up to supplying the TV and Radio guide. It’s been tough juggling family, teaching and other commitments but I do know it’s a very appreciated resource and I’m sorry you’ve had a term without it.

I’ll not commit to doing one next week – but if I can, I will.

Happy New Year.

P.S. If you want news of ISS flyovers in the UK @VirtualAstro is the account to follow on twitter. See also

Science TV and Radio: week commencing 2nd November 2015


I’m feeling glum that I’ve not been able to provide you with the guide on a regular basis so far this term. Not enough hours in the day and family and work commitments mean this has had to take a back seat. I’m trying to streamline the process to make it less onerous a task and intend to produce a guide again next week.

One thing that will change is the QR codes – I will post the links to the programme online on this blog (as I did a few weeks ago) and there will be one QR code that links to that post. This will speed up the process.

With that in mind: here are some programmes I think will interest you and your students this week –

Science TV and Radio: week commencing 12th October 2015

Unfortunately I have run out of time to post the guide tonight. It will be posted Monday evening. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Here’s the list of programmes to be included.
The Secret Life of Ice is on Monday at 8pm
The Magic of Mushrooms
The Life Scientific
The Life and Death of A Smartphone
Costing the Earth
Inside Science
Science in Action
The Science Hour
Naked Scientists
A Horizon guide to ageing
The Great British Year: Spring
Monkey Cage
Digital Human
Click in Japan
The Natural World – Galapagos
The Sky at Night
The Natural World – Prairie Dogs

Science TV and Radio: week commencing 5th October 2015

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A quick post – a reminder that the PDF is designed to be printed out onto A3 and that the QR codes take you to the relevant page where you can watch online or via catchup TV if the service allows.

I’ve added some colour coding to the programmes to indicate which subject area they are most aligned with.

My picks of the week are The Sky at Night, and Planet Oil. Also @MrsDrSarah pointed me towards the Channel 5 programme Body Donors. I haven’t watched last week’s but Sarah recommends it.

Here is the guide: Science TV and Radio Guide_20151005.

Science TV and Radio: week commencing 28th September 2015

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I almost forgot to post this tonight – luckily I’m off school next week, so have stayed up to make sure it’s available.

Very biology heavy this week, and lots of programmes about natural history science and scientists.

Pick of the Week is Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor on BBC 4 this Thursday.


Science TV and Radio Guide_20150928.pdf

Science TV and Radio: week commencing 21st September 2015

Title 20150921Hello, and welcome back to the Teachers Guide to the Airwaves, a wholly remarkable PDF, brought to you by the great publishing house on Ursa Minor Beta… ok perhaps not.

But I’m back. And the guide has changed. I and my partner in crime @MrsDrSarah are unable to dedicate the time required to produce the guide in its previous form. So I’m going to be giving you the top 15 (ish) programmes of the week in a handy one page sheet.

The QR codes are still there, and I hope that this format is slightly more appealing to you and your students. As ever comments are more than welcome. I am also going to be including more computer science programmes whenever they show up as that reflects the subjects that I am involved with in my school.

The main focus of this and the last few weeks at the BBC has been on coding and computing and so there are a few programmes to catch up with, including Computing Britain and Girls Can Code. Also at the end of the week Radio 3 are doing a themed weekend called #whymusic, which will include a few programmes looking at the link between music and the brain.

Anyway, without further ado, your new guide. Enjoy.

Science TV and Radio Guide_20150921.pdf

Rebooting the TV and Radio guide

As the new academic year gets underway, the time was come to start up the guide again for your students to use to access STEM focused TV and radio programmes. I am planning a few design changes this year to take into account of the fact that l have a role leading computer science in my new school.
If anyone has any suggestions on how to make the information more accessible for our students please leave a comment .

I am aiming to pubIish the first guide for the week commencing 13th September.

@A_Weatherall (and @Mrsdrsarah)

Science TV and Radio for the week commencing 29th June 2015


The posts are quick at the moment as there is too much else going on. But here’s next week’s guide ready to share with your students. Thanks to Sarah for collating the programmes.

Science TV and Radio Guide_20150629.pdf

The pick of the week is The Life Scientific – Jim Al-Khalili talking to Henry Marsh about his work in the field of neuroscience.

Science TV and Radio for week commencing 22nd June 2015

I’ll add some picks of the week on Monday.

Here’s the guide: Science TV and Radio Guide_20150622.pdf