TV Show Varieties
A List of TV Show Types I have appeared in, and a list of unclassifiable appearances
Pipers of the Trenches
I ran experiments testing the power music on Scottish soldiers.
The Science of Making a Masterpiece – Episode 1, Art
I ran physiological experiments in the Tate Gallery (London) on how people responded to paintings for Channel 4.
Idris Elba’s How Clubbing Changed the World
I explained how music changes our bodies and our minds, creating physiological arousal and connecting us to other people listening.
On the Couch With Big Brother
My most recognisable TV appearances have been as a guest scientist on Big Brother. I appeared as part of the psychology team on the main Big Brother show, on Big Brother’s Big Brain with Dermot O’Leary, and On the Couch with Big Brother with Davina McCall. It all seems so long ago now…
The Brain: The Learning Brain.
This four minute short film by Teacher’s TV shows Dr. Harry Witchel demonstrating unconscious learning occurring – that is, learning something without being told what you are learning, and not being certain that you have learned anything, yet the body responds in a new way that must have been learned. This is a brief example of the Iowa Gambling Task, made famous by Antonio Damasio.
The 100 Most Annoying Pop Songs We Hate to Love
An affectionate, light-hearted countdown of 100 classic-yet-irritating pop hits that stormed the music charts and secured their place in our hearts. Includes interviews with scientists (including me), music experts, and the pop stars themselves.
The Truth About Food.
Do aphrodisiacs really work? We tested this out on some good-looking volunteers in Vic Reeves’s BBC2 television series, The Truth about Food. It all happens in the back of a 1950’s pink stretch limo cadillac, wiring up our volunteers to physiological equipment measuring heart rate and galvanic skin conductance, before and after they have a go with the oysters, strawberries, asparagus and chocolate. The “experimental stimuli” are two models, one male, one female, and you will be delighted to know that one gentleman, a rower, had a standard resting heart rate of an athlete of approximately 58 beats per minute, but when the model starting flirting with him and putting her hands (ever so gently) on his shoulder, his heart rate doubled to over 120 beats per minute. What a hoot!
Talking with Jeremy Paxman, I explained why, as an American, the English always keep “bottling it” in cricket. As expected, Paxman was gently pulling my chain, although not nearly so much he did to the sports psychologist Andy Barton, who was also being interviewed. You can watch this extraordinary interview, in which I was nominally explaining the physiology of stress hormones, using the link below.
This was childen’s televison (actually young adults) on CBBC. I demonstrated body language and electromyograms on two young men, to determine how funny they found jokes.
BBC1 Television – 6 O’clock News & BBC News 24
Commenting on politicians’ body language, from Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, to David Cameron and Ed Miliband.
This was a panel game show on BBC about scientific-based puzzles hosted by author Simon Singh and later by Marcus DuSautoy. I was invited back on a number of occasions to compete against other celebrity intellectuals including Professor Robert Winston (physician and television science presenter), Professor Kathy Sykes (Professor of Public Understanding of Science), Roger Highfield (Science editor of The Telegraph) and Michael Rosen (poet and author).