New CITV entertainment show Horrible Science sees comedian Ben Miller getting to grips with the guts and gore of the subject, with plenty of slapstick thrown in for good measure. Keeley Bolger reports
What did your children think of the show when they visited on set?
I’ve got two sons who were fascinated by the brain puppet when they came on set. My three-year-old started asking, ‘Will you come home with me? Will you be my friend?’ and the brilliant puppeteer [talked back to him].
What stands in the way of learning about science?
With this series, we really wanted it to be funny first and scientific second. We wanted to connect with children who had been put off science, get in there before anyone tells them they’re difficult or boring and engage in natural curiosity.
Did you experience any of those preconceptions when you studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge?
Constantly. If I was at a party, literally the conversation would go, ‘Hi there, what are you studying?’ And you’d go, ‘Science’ and they’d just walk off.”
Does having a scientific background give you a head start when your children ask tricky questions?
I think any five-year-old worth his salt could put Stephen Hawking in a bind with his questions.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
In the great scheme of things, it isn’t much of a risk, but for me personally, I suppose when I tried to make a go of it in comedy. I was about 25 and three years into my PHD and I thought, ‘If I’m going to start doing comedy, I have to do it now or I’ll never do it’.
You’re in a notoriously tough business. Did you ever think about packing it in?
I did stuff on my own for a year or two and then Alexander Armstrong and me started doing stuff together and I really enjoyed doing that. By the time I was approaching 30, I still hadn’t really done anything. That was the point I started to get nervous, but it was around about then that Alexander and I started to get somewhere with our sketches.Looking back, we were in very good company at the time. The people who we were doing the clubs - Matt Lucas and David Walliams, The League Of Gentlemen and Simon Pegg - have become very successful. It’s funny. I didn’t know they were going to be successful at the time and neither did they.
lHorrible Science begins on ITV on Sunday, September 13.