Category Archives: Television

Bubbles at Sunday Brunch

Guest post by our Explainer Developer Dan

One of the great things about working as an Explainer at the Science Museum is the wide range of work we get the opportunity to do. So as well as working with the public in our interactive galleries and performing science shows on a daily basis, sometimes we get to do something a little bit different. A few Sundays ago, David and I had the opportunity to do one of these different things, in this case, 6 minutes of live television.

Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, a morning magazine show, invited us along to do a segment about bubbles. This was a great opportunity for the Museum to promote our Bubbles show which we perform throughout the year at weekends and we were about to perform a lot more over the half term. We, of course, leapt at the chance.

David and I at the studio before going on air

What was really nice for us was the level of input we had over what we did, which was pretty much free range. After a few phone calls and emails with the production team at Princess Productions and working alongside our press office, we sent through what we thought would fill 6 minutes. It included a brief introduction to why bubbles have a role in science and science communication (Name-checking Thomas Young and Charles Vernon Boys), an experiment for viewers to try at home, some experiments they wouldn’t be able to do at home and our popular finale, the human bubble; A bubble so big, you can fit a human inside it. The week of the show, we discovered that the human we would be using would be Kelly Jones, lead singer of the Stereophonics along with one of the presenters, Simon Rimmer.

Left to right: Me, presenters Simon Rimmer & Tim Lovejoy, David on the end

It was an early start on Sunday morning, the show starts at 9:30, but for rehearsals and set up we arrived before 8. After setting up and meeting the presenters for a “Block” rehearsal, where the camera crew can work out where they need to be and what they will be filming, we basically had to wait until our slot at about 11:00. We watched the show while the nerves built up, I think David was probably more relaxed than me, but I kept thinking about all the things I could say or do wrong in front of the 700,000 strong TV audience!

The segment itself went really well, David had the trickiest bit as he needed to get a paperclip to sit on the surface tension of a small bowl of water. We had prepared some already in case it went wrong, but, ever the professional, David did it on the first attempt. The demo worked really well and we followed it with some carbon dioxide filled bubbles, but had to skip our intended helium filled bubbles as we were running short on time, what with it being live, so moved straight on to the big finale.

As soon as the item finished, the presenters and main crew had to run off to the next area of the studio to continue the show, but the extra crew, along with families of the crew and guests, made a beeline for our table and had a good play with our experiments. We gave them carbon dioxide bubbles to hold and put them in the human bubble until everyone was satisfied, then we headed back to the museum.

Simon Rimmer holding a carbon dioxide bubble

We had lots of great feedback from the crew, our colleagues and the public via the Twitter feeds for both the Museum and Sunday Brunch. All in all a great experience, interesting, exciting and just a little bit different.

Explainer Fact:  Our bubble mix recipe is 95% warm water, 3% washing up liquid and 2% glycerol.  To learn a bit more about bubbles click here.

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Workshop: A History of Science on TV and at the Museum

BBC Science on Show broadcast from the Museum (credit: Science Museum)

Would you like to explore the linked histories of science on TV and at the Museum? Our ‘Intermedial Science’ project is investigating these aspects of the popular culture of science in Britainin the fifties and sixties (see previous post). We are comparing how topics such as space exploration and atomic energy were put on display at the Museum and presented in television programmes. This AHRC-funded project has been under way since early March this year and has proved very exciting. The Science Museum’s archives hold many hidden treasures, and so little has been written so far on Science TV in post war Britain that we are pretty much walking in uncharted territory. On 20th September, we will be sharing the excitement generated by this research.

BBC Science on Show broadcast from the Museum (credit: Science Museum)

On the day we would like to invite everyone who is interested in learning more about the history of museum display and science on TV to join us for a workshop in which we will present some of our findings, and share first thoughts on the next steps for this fascinating project. It will be the occasion to hear people who made this history, in theScienceMuseumand at the BBC science department, telling us their sides of the story. 

The event, starting early in the afternoon, will be in two parts. The first bit, more suited to people with a specialist interest, will be a research academic workshop. It will involve a presentation of findings from the research and a hands-on session during which participants will be offered the opportunity to reflect on an individual science broadcast. The second part of the day, open to the public, will consist in a ciné-club style session. A Horizon Special will be screened in the presence of former producers and editors of the programme. This will be followed by a roundtable discussion and then a Q & A session during which participants will be invited to reflect on the presentation of science on TV in the past forty years and more.

If you’re interested in attending, please drop us a line at:

This event is part of the Intermedial Science project which has been made possible by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.