Time, BBC4

by | Mar 5, 2006 | All, Reviews

Time, BBC4, Sunday 26 February 2006

Did we like it?

We thought we knew everything there is to know about time. It keeps on slipping into the future (Steve Miller taught us that), it’s tight (reckons Booker T), it will crawl (according to David Bowie). But we found out a lot more from the first in this four-part series presented by scientist and string theory pioneer Michio Kaku.

What was good about it?

• Michio Kaku is an amenable presenter (and reminds us a little of Thunderbirds chauffeur Parker). We love his catchphrase: “As a physicist…”

• The frantic rat on cocaine was a bit of a TV highlight – but animal rights protestors may feel it wasn’t strictly necessary to demonstrate that cocaine makes time race and marijuana slows it down

• The programme is intelligent without being like an Open University lecture but also accessible without resorting to the sort of silly gimmicks that even hamper BBC2 documentaries these days

• An interesting range of case studies including the grunion fish that turn up in their thousands on Newport Beach at exactly the same time each year to mate; the man who lived in a dark cave but retained his 24-hour bodyclock; the father and daughter who have a disease which means they wake at 3.00am; the man with a seven-second memory who greets his wife like a long-lost friend every time he sets eyes on her; proof that time does slow down when you’re facing death (demonstrated by a volunteer plunging 12 storeys)

• The section on comic timing was a welcome snatch of levity amid all the science

• Restrained music underpinned Michio’s arguments without intruding (but the slo-motion/speeded-up footage was a little overused).

What was bad about it?

• Too many American accents. Couldn’t they find any British experts on time?

• King the great ape let himself down, and his species down, by failing the memory test

Sunday 5 March 2006

The top eight fascinating facts

1. Old people perceive time slower than young people, which means they feel the world around them going too quickly. Which means, for those poor sods, that while each edition of Davina is like a switchblade across the throat for us, for them it’s the tortuous staking out in the wasteland of mental infertility, wrists red-raw from struggling with their bonds, mouth parched and vultures with faces curiously resembling sub-minor, sub-human celebrities picking carelessly at their flesh.

2. The Methuselah tree on the fringes of the Sierra Nevada is 5,000 years old and its thick set elephant-wrinkled branches raised aloft as if in triumph resembles Wayne Rooney after he has scored a goal.

3. The oldest human ever was a French woman who reached the venerable old age of 122. If you are having trouble capturing how long that is, imagine a single, lonely question from Garth Crooks.

4. The reason people reach 60 and bemoan, “Where has my life gone?” is because the soul-crushing repetition of modern work means that routines seem to blur into one timeless, gooey ball of homogeneity. And it’s only when the routine stops after retirement that people can look back in horror at the absolute worthlessness of their existence, rather like when the drums chime in at the end of EastEnders and it’s as if a ravenous beast with the face of deceased market trader Pete Beale has just taken a half-hour bite from your life and sold it to Dot Cotton in a crumpled brown paper bag.

5. Apparently yeast is immortal. So when you consume your yoghurt, remember that one day it will consume you as the yeast uses the nutrients from your decaying corpse to sustain its life.

6. Growing up is a pre-programmed part of life, but ageing, and therefore death are not. Ageing only occurs because cells get too damaged to repair, causing wrinkles and grey hair for example.

7. The cells are damaged by ‘free radicals’ that are particles which escape from ‘power station’ cells (no, we’re not too sure what this meant either). The ‘free radicals’ collide with healthy DNA cells and corrupt them.

8. Scientist Dr Aubrey De Grey is on a self-appointed mission to stop “100,000 needless deaths a day” from old age. He’ll do this by stopping cells ageing, so everyone can be 21 again.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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