Jimmy Carr to host Horizon special on the science of laughter

The documentary will come as part of the BBC's landmark sitcom season

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Comedian Jimmy Carr is set to uncover the secrets of snickering in a new Horizon special on the science of laughter, it has been announced.

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A tie-in to the BBC’s upcoming sitcom season (where the corporation revisits old comedy series along with premiering new ones), the one-off documentary will see Carr and leading scientists try to find out exactly what laughter is, where our enjoyment of it comes from and how it actually relates to being amused.

“Many Worlds Theory states that in an infinite universe there will be one planet on which I’m presenting Horizon,” Carr said. “I can’t believe your luck – it’s this one.”

Joining Carr in his search will be Professor Sophie Scott (who has done research into how the brain processes laughter), evolutionary biologist Professor Robin Dunbar (who has a theory about how laughter has impacted our species’ development) and Professor Pete McGraw, who has a controversial theory that may be able to explain all comedy.

“Science and of course comedy are such a central part of British culture,” BBC Science head Andrew Cohen said. “It’s great to see these two worlds collide with a project that will be as entertaining as it is informative.”

Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning, added: “This Horizon special complements our sitcom season perfectly. 

“Our national sense of humour defines and shapes us, so who better than Jimmy Carr to explore what tickles us and help to get under the skin of what is unique about British comedy. 

Other parts of the BBC landmark sitcom season will see a reboot of classic sitcom Porridge starring Kevin Bishop, a prequel to Keeping Up Appearances and a recast version of Are You Being Served?

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Jimmy Carr and The Science of Laughter: A Horizon Special will air later this year