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The Science of Doctor Who

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“But that’s ridiculous!” scoffed science teacher Ian Chesterton 50 years ago in the very first episode as he struggled to grasp the time-bending concepts at the heart of the series. He’d have appreciated this enlightening lecture from the Royal Institution in London, in which the BBC’s favourite real-life physicist, Brian Cox, explains that, in a small way, we are all time travellers and how we’re beginning to reach out to other worlds.

In just one hour Cox can’t cover all the wild ideas thrown up by five decades of Who – not even how a vessel can be bigger on the inside – and at times his blackboard diagrams veer into dry Open University territory, but Cox’s skill at communicating complex ideas prevails. He keeps things jolly with a bit of audience participation, practical demonstrations from Charles Dance, Rufus Hound and Jim Al-Khalili. There’s even time for a jaunt in the Tardis with Matt Smith’s Doctor.


Professor Brian Cox takes an audience at the Royal Institution of Great Britain's lecture hall on a journey into the universe of sci-fi series Doctor Who, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last month. Brian reveals the science behind the show and explains the physics that allows the Doctor to travel through space and time, and also looks at evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial life. Featuring an appearance by Matt Smith.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Brian Cox
Contributor Matt Smith
Executive Producer Andrew Cohen
Producer Milla Harrison-Hansley

Drama Documentary

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