Cambridge MP Huppert fumes as his favourite science show gets the axe

Jenni Bloomfield - News Reporter 22 November 2012

Julian Huppert, Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, described BBC East’s decision to scrap popular radio show ‘The Naked Scientists’ as “a grave mistake”.

The programme, which has run for ten years and won eight awards including this year’s Society of Biology communication prize, is to be scrapped from January and will no longer be aired by the BBC due to a change in the scheduling for Sunday leaving it without a slot.

The decision sparked a flood of backlash on social media and email, and resulted in Mick Rawsthorne’s appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Feedback programme.

Defending his decision, Rawsthorne, Head of Local and Regional Programming for BBC East, admitted that the Naked Scientists was “a very good programme” but not sufficiently local.

Huppert, however, argued that this science programme is “particularly relevant in a region that has one of the world’s best universities as well as numerous technology and biotechnology institutes and companies”. He stressed that “science is part of our everyday lives”, praising the Naked Scientists for its ability to “report science in such a way that it can be understood and enjoyed by everyone”.

Opposition to Rawsthorne’s assertion also came from Dr Chris Smith of the Naked Scientist. He argued that the proposed line-up for Sunday didn’t fulfil the remit for local radio as the schedule consisted of “wall-to-wall music programmes”, including “hours of American country music that don’t even represent the right continent, let alone county”.

A wider campaign has been launched to save the Naked Scientists, backed by Huppert who wrote to the BBC on their behalf.

In his letter he emphasised the popularity of the programme, stating that as a podcast it achieved great popularity with “a clear audience” and “over 30 million downloads in the last 5 years”.

Jenni Bloomfield – News Reporter