Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Don't knock the Cox

It has become popular in the science writing community to be slightly sniffy about Brian Cox.



As spoof videos like the one above show, the style of his TV show is easy to mock, with a tendency to go to some distant location just to make a passing comment - but that is much more about the BBC's rather tired documentary style (I blame that nice David Attenborough) than it is about Brian Cox himself.

Personally speaking, I think those of us who write science books should be very happy about what Brian Cox is doing. It's hard not to suspect just a smidgeon of jealously amongst those who knock the Cox. But in reality, what he does gives more exposure to science and is liable to encourage some of those millions of viewers to find out more, which is where those of us with the more in-depth books can step in.

A couple of times since his series has been on I've been asked by people who didn't know I was a science writer 'Did you see Brian Cox's programme last night'... which can't be bad. It has raised the profile of science. Of course some people think that his slightly manic enthusiasm is fake - but it really isn't. I had coffee with him a while ago while waiting to do a joint gig at the Science Museum's Dana Centre in London (this was before his TV appearances) and he was just as enthusiastic, and though rather dazzled by the media, came across as a genuine nice guy.

So please, fellow science writers, don't knock the Cox. Instead celebrate the exposure he is giving physics.

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