Horizon (BBC TV series)

Horizon (BBC TV series)

Infobox Television
show_name = Horizon

caption = Horizon title card
format = Science, History, Educational
camera =
picture_format = PAL
runtime = 50 min
creator =
developer =
producer = Liz Tucker
Andrew Thompson
Jacqui Smith
Andrew Cohen
Malcolm Clark
Matthew Barrett
executive_producer =
starring = Various
narrated =
opentheme =
endtheme =
country = UK
network = BBC
first_aired = 1964
last_aired = present
num_episodes =
website = http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/broadband/index.shtml
imdb_id = 0318224
tv_com_id =

"Horizon" is a current and long-running BBC popular science and philosophy documentary programme. The programme was first broadcast in 1964 with "The World of Buckminster Fuller" which explored the theories and structures of inventor Richard Buckminster Fuller and included the Horizon mission statement, "The aim of Horizon is to provide a platform from which some of the world's greatest scientists and philosophers can communicate their curiosity, observations and reflections, and infuse into our common knowledge their changing views of the universe". There have been over 1000 episodes made and broadcast.BBC Press Office, [http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2004/08_august/19/horizon_facts.shtml "40 facts for Horizon's 40th birthday"] , retrieved 2008-07-13]

Horizon has investigated an eclectic mix of subjects controversial topics such as 'Does the MMR jab cause autism', opened the awareness of consumers to the use of whale meat in pet food in 1972 as well as producing documentary-dramas such as 'Life Story' in 1987 which dramatised the discovery of the structure of DNA. BBC Press Office, [http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2004/08_august/19/horizon.shtml "BBC TWO's Horizon celebrates 40th birthday with new series this autumn"] , retrieved 2008-07-13]


The format of the series has varied over the years. In the 1960s, Horizon was a magazine format with three or four items per episode and each episode varied in length. BBC Press Office, [http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2004/08_august/19/horizon_facts.shtml "40 facts for Horizon's 40th birthday"] , retrieved 2008-07-13] It is now standardised at 50 minutes. Some episodes are adapted from documentaries by other broadcasters such as PBS's "NOVA"Neal, Stephen, [http://groups.google.co.uk/group/uk.media.tv.misc/browse_frm/thread/c7fa627f80f131b9/e38ee8b525c4329a?hl=en#e38ee8b525c4329a "Re: BBC Alert! 'Horizon' 7th March"] , Usenet. Comment written 2002-03-08, retrieved 2006-11-04] , and episodes of "Horizon" are in turn adapted by PBS and other broadcasters around the world. Michael Ambrosino, while serving a year-long fellowship with the BBC, was inspired by Horizon and went on to create the long-running NOVA series on the same model [See [http://www.current.org/doc/doc808nova.html Ambrosino and Nova: making stories that go ‘bang’] , Current, May 4, 1998] [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,911262,00.html "For Curious Grownups"] Time magazine, Apr. 29, 1974] .

Since the early 1990s, "Horizon" has developed a distinctive narrative form, typically employing an underlying "detective" metaphor, to relate scientific issues and discoveries to the lives of its viewers. Many episodes of "Horizon" are structured in a format that starts with a tease or menu laying out what the show has in store, followed by two 'acts' with a 'plot twist' around 25-35 minutes into the show. The twist frequently propels the story line from a focus on an individual scientist's human and intellectual journey of discovery through to explore the impact of that insight while, at the same time, providing a change of 'texture' and filmic pace. Often, episodes of "Horizon" end up with a montage of "talking heads" as experts and people affected by the implications of the science covered are intercut to create a sense of summary.

Horizon has also enjoyed extremely high viewing figures, even though it covered subjects as complex as molecular biology and particle physics. It has shown a change of direction since June 2006, offering a more light-hearted approach, though the subjects it covers remain serious.


The down-side to "Horizon's" focus on 'Pure Science, Sheer Drama' and the occasionally forced narrative this engenders has led to some accusations of dumbing down in recent years [Orlowski, Andrew, [http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/10/27/bbc_horizon "BBC abandons science"] , The Register. Article dated 2006-10-27, retrieved 2006-11-04.] [Various, [http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/04/bbc_horizon_letters/ "BBC Horizon letters"] , The Register. Published 2006-11-04, retrieved 2006-11-04.] [Close, Frank, [http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/30679 "Fears over factoids"] , Physics World. Published 2007-08-03.] , with one former editor writing a newspaper article about how the programme concentrates too much on human stories, and not enough on the science. [Goodchild, Peter, [http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/feature/story/0,,1320986,00.html "Clouds on the Horizon"] , guardian.co.uk. Article written 2004-10-07.]

One program "Chimps are people too" was entirely presented by a non-scientist "Danny Wallace". Editor Andrew Cohen addressed the question why go down this route on Horizon web page. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/broadband/broadband_only/fromtheeditor/index.shtml] ]


In the period of "Pure Science, Sheer Drama", "Horizon" won an unprecedented series of the world's top awards, including a BAFTA, an Emmy for Best Documentary, a Royal Television Society Award and a Grierson Trust Award.


External links

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon BBC's "Horizon" pages]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/archives.shtml Official episode list (since 1996)]
* [http://www.tv.com/horizon/show/26691/summary.html TV.COM Horizon Guide]

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