Disturbing the Universe

David L Clements, science and science fiction

The Night with No Sky


There have been rumours rumbling around for the last few weeks, and it was something we were all worried would happen once Patrick Moore died, but the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian have now broken the story that the BBC is planning to cancel The Sky at Night in the New Year. An alternative would be to revamp the series, but  this would have to be handled very carefully. Revamps of long running science programmes, such as Time Team, can all too easily go disastrously wrong. The Sky at Night has a loyal following of about 250000 viewers and currently has such a tiny budget that the science content is king. Attempts to push to a larger audience and more flashy presentation will risk ruining that dynamic, which has been established over 50 years.

Other revamps of science shows by the BBC, for example of Horizon some years back (‘real science, real drama’ – argh!) or Material World on radio 4 more recently (with much loved, and very skilled, presenter Quentin thrown on the scrap heap) have not gone well, possibly because the arts dominated BBC really doesn’t understand an audience that wants content and cares less about flashy presentation or flashy presenters.

There is a petition at chamge.org to save the show, so please go there and sign it, but, more than keeping it on air, we need to make sure that its focus remains on content, on the science, and doesn’t get diverted to something that will just put off its highly loyal audience.


Author: davecl

Astronomy, science, science fiction

4 thoughts on “The Night with No Sky

  1. I actually quite like Inside Science. Material World had many plus points (geekery and Cthulhu references) but the obvious if inadvertent misogyny was somewhat wearing. Plus I like the Show Us Your Instrument feature on Inside Science.

  2. I must admit that I’ve only listened to IS once – it’s not on at a good time for me – and I was a bit underwhelmed. I can’t say I noticed mysogyny on MW, but that’s probably my own fault. I may be a bit biased since Quentin has had me on MW several times, but I was always very impressed with how he teased out the critical aspects of whatever odd aspect of science was being presented. That’s a tough thing to do, but he made it seem effortless.

    I’ve heard others say good things about ‘Show Us Your Instrument’, so that may be a good edition. Must say that since my instruments are a long way away, I feel at a disadvantage 🙂

  3. Saddened but not surprised about SAN. If people want a serious astronomy broadcast, I can recommend Naked Astronomy, http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/astronomy/, which has had Dave as a guest in the past.

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