Brainiac: Science Abuse
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|Brainiac: Science Abuse|
|Directed by||Peter Eyre|
|Presented by||Richard Hammond (2003–6)
Vic Reeves (2007–8)
Charlotte Hudson (2004–7)
Thaila Zucchi (2008)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||6|
|No. of episodes||58 (inc. 7 specials)|
|Executive producer(s)||Stewart Morris|
|Running time||60 minutes (inc. adverts)|
|Production company(s)||Granada Productions|
|Original network||Sky One|
|Original release||13 November 2003– 30 March 2008|
|Related shows||Brainiac: History Abuse
Brainiac's Test Tube Baby
Brainiac: Science Abuse (often shortened to simply Brainiac or Brainiacs) is a British entertainment documentary show that aired on Sky One from 13 November 2003 to 30 March 2008. During each episode of the show, numerous experiments are carried out to verify whether common conceptions are true (such as whether it is possible to run across a pool of custard) or simply to create impressive explosions. The show centres on the three core branches of science for the key stages in British education: chemistry, physics and to a lesser extent, biology. The experimenters on the show are referred to as "Brainiacs", and each episode usually finishes with the destruction of a caravan.
The original presenters were Richard Hammond and Jon Tickle, then joined in the second series by Charlotte Hudson. Hammond left after the fourth, and was replaced by Vic Reeves and Hudson left after the fifth, and was replaced by Thaila Zucchi.
In July 2008, after the sixth series had finished, Sky announced they had cancelled the show due to the sixth series' low ratings.
In April 2015 ITV announced it is working on a reboot of Brainiac Science Abuse, it is thought that the show will not feature Richard Hammond.
- 1 History
- 2 Stage adaptations (2008- Present)
- 3 Forged results
- 4 Music
- 5 Transmissions
- 6 International broadcasts
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Series 1 (2003)
Series 1 featured a wide variety of experiments including testing to see whether a mobile phone would ignite petrol vapours, walking on custard and testing the effects of electric shocks on various Brainiacs.
Series 2 (2004)
Series 2 saw the start of "Brainiac Snooker", in which World Snooker professional Quinten Hann would pot the last six balls on a table into pockets connected to fuses which, upon potting a ball causing a caravan rigged with a different explosive to explode.
Series 3 (2005)
Series 3 featured Brainiac Golf (similar to Brainiac Snooker, but exploding caravans filled with different substances that exploded with coloured flames depending on the chemicals used), Lad v. Lass, Thermite, "Does being electrocuted affect your ability at work?" (human statue, flair bartending, darts player), "Things the instruction manuals don't warn you about", 47 Second Science, Diana Ross and her Chain Reaction, and testing which things break and which things bounce after a ten-foot drop.
Dr. John P. Kilcoyne, Associate Dean of the University of Sunderland had a regular slot where he mixed various chemicals to see whether they "fizz" or "bang".
Series 4 (2006)
Series 4 introduced Brainiac Darts, during which Bobby George threw a perfect set, always finishing on the Double Top which triggered the explosion of a caravan, and a new "I Can Do Science Me" which is set around auditions. There is also a feature called "Things What My Body Does", in which a member of the public is filmed doing something extraordinary with their bodies. It also featured "Movie Stars Destroying Cars" and Dr. John P. Kilcoyne with "Glow or Blow".
It also introduced a new feature called "Brainiac for a Day", where contestants could bring an item of their choice to blow up. It was set out as a game show with the hosts Dolly Girl (Lisa Marie Bourke) (previously "Jane" in the "Lad v. Lass" segment) and Dolly Boy (Stefan D'Bart).
Series 5 (2007)
Series 5 retained "Brainiac For A Day", "Things What My Body Does", and contains new segments like "Brainiac V Beast", Dr Kilcoyne with "Fizzle or Flash" and Prof. Myang Li (Rachel Grant) with steel balls, attempting to "shatter or shunt" various objects. In addition, Vic Reeves appeared as the Russian scientist Uri Abusikov, along with his assistant Ursula, attempting to destroy things with liquid nitrogen.
In this series, Reeves took over as host from Richard Hammond, who had quit the show. Hammond's growing commitments to Top Gear and his contract with the BBC meant that he was finding it increasingly difficult to fulfil his role as presenter of Brainiac. Hammond was also reportedly losing interest in doing Brainiac. Reeves was brought in as replacement host shortly after the end of the fourth series and before Richard Hammond's near fatal crash. The original production team left the programme at the same time as Hammond.
Series 6 (2008)
Series 6 saw the return of Vic Reeves as host and Jon Tickle as co-host. Thaila Zucchi replaced Hudson as the third co-host and made her debut on the series in two items: "How Hard is Your Thing?" in which she tests the hardness of different objects using thermite and a ton of bricks dropped from a crane, and "Shocking Acts" in which she finds out whether variety acts can still perform while receiving electric shocks. Other new segments included "Gas Bang Wallop" featuring a character called Barry Bernard who destroys things with gas, "Chemistry Deathmatch" in which regular characters Dr Bunhead and Professor John Kilcoyne go head-to-head to produce the best experiments, "Custard Dreams" which follows the adventures of a Brainiac who discovers he can walk on custard, and "Stars in Their Caravans" which sees a variety of UK celebrities trapped in caravans, in a mock game show which results in large explosions
- Gail Porter
- Frank Bruno
- Paul Daniels
- Debbie McGee
- Jayne Middlemiss
- Wozza Thompson (Antony Worrall Thompson)
- Tony Blackburn
- Danielle Lloyd
- Abi Titmuss
- Keely Hazell
Stage adaptations (2008- Present)
Brainiac Live! (UK tour/ Butlins tour 2008—Present)
Brainiac Live! is the name of the live stage tour of Brainiac, touring nationally from March 2008 and owned by ITV.  From 2010 — 2012 Brainiac Live toured all three Butlins holiday parks with a fun thrilled 1 Hr 50 Minute show. The show was stopped in 2012.
In November 2015 Brainiac Live returned to Butlins (only minehead) as part of science weekend, although only for one weekend. It was later announced that due to popular demand Brainiac Live would return. The show returned at the start of the new 2016 season touring around all three Butlins on selected breaks throughout the half terms and summer holiday. When the show returned it was announced that there would be two showings per break, one in the afternoon and one if the evening. It was also announced that the show had been cut down to 1 hour with no break. Brainiac LIVE! will return to Butlins science weekend 2016/ 2017 to all three parks. There will be four science weekends, with three shows at Minehead, one at Bognor and one a Skegness on each weekend.
Become a Brainiac! (2015-Present)
When Brainiac LIVE returned in 2015 to Butlin's they brought a new daytime activity where kids aged 7–11 years old can take part in. (Butlins Only)
At least one faked result has surfaced: the alkali metal experiments. The experiment aimed to illustrate periodic trends in the alkali metal series. It showed the violent reactions of metallic sodium and potassium with water, in which the hydrogen produced subsequent explosions, and intended to demonstrate the even greater reactivity of rubidium and caesium by dropping them into a water-filled bathtub. The reaction was not particularly spectacular, and the crew substituted explosives for the alkali metals. This is clearly visible in the footage, in which an "explosives" sign can be seen on the premises, and an exploding cloud of hydrogen gas, which one would expect in an alkali metal reaction with water, was not visible. A wire connected to an offscreen detonator can also be observed on the bathtub filled with water for a brief moment during the caesium 'experiment'.
The Brainiac staff have admitted that the explosions had been faked. According to Tom Pringle, Brainiac's "Dr Bunhead", very little occurred in the real reaction of caesium and water, as the large volume of water over it drowned out the thermal shock wave that should have shattered the bathtub. The crew decided to set up a bomb in the tub and used the footage of that explosion.
Similar experiments with caesium or rubidium have been repeated; these include Popular Science columnist Theodore Gray's experiments, the "Viewer Special Threequel" episode of MythBusters, and an attempt made as part of the Periodic Table of Videos series created by several faculty members at the University of Nottingham. In no case were the rubidium and caesium reactions nearly as violent or explosive as depicted on Brainiac.
An earlier and more successful attempt was shown on British TV in the 1970s as part of the Open University programmes. Here, rubidium splatters around as soon as it hits the water's surface (with some parts sinking and creating more violent bangs). Caesium, on the other hand, does create an explosion and destroys the apparatus, mainly due to the fact that the metal sinks well into the water and creates a large "cone" of hydrogen gas before it ignites and explodes. This video is available online at The Open University.
Brainiac: Science Abuse plays music in every episode, including hits by Britney Spears, C & C Music Factory, and Elton John. Some are themes of various recurring segments such as "There's No One Quite like Grandma" sung by the St Winifred's School Choir for the Granny Brainiac segments in Series 3. The "I Like Hard Things" segment normally features heavy rock music such as Linkin Park or Limp Bizkit. The segment "I Can Do Science, Me" uses the track "I Am A Scientist" by The Dandy Warhols.
Most of the music was changed to generic production music for the DVD release
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|1||13 November 2003||18 December 2003||6|
|2||2 September 2004||25 November 2004||13|
|3||25 August 2005||13 October 2005||8|
|4||16 July 2006||10 September 2006||9|
|5||8 May 2007||24 July 2007||12|
|6||13 January 2008||22 March 2008||10|
|24 December 2003||The Best of Series 1|
|21 December 2004||The Best of Series 2|
|3 November 2005||The Best of Series 3|
|20 December 2005||Brainiac Christmas Cracker|
|24 September 2006||The Best of Series 4|
|1 January 2008||The Best of Series 5|
|30 March 2008||The Best of Series 6|
Brainiac: Science Abuse has been broadcast in a number of channels outside the UK.
In the U.S., it first began airing on G4 on 29 August 2005 as part of the Midnight Spank programming block; and is also shown on VIVA in Germany, JIMtv in Belgium, Veronica in the Netherlands, Skai TV in Greece, Channel 8 in Israel, True Visions in Thailand, GO! in Australia (also known as Brainiacs) from 2012-2013, TV2 in New Zealand, Cuatro in Spain (only parts of it because they did their own Brainiac programme), Nelonen in Finland, in Singapore on MediaCorp TV's okto and in the Philippines on Jack TV. It has also been broadcast on Discovery Channel or one of its sister channels (such as The Science Channel) in a number of other countries. Furthermore, MBC Action started airing it on 13 October 2008 and in the Middle East.
- Holmwood, Leigh (28 July 2008). "Sky Calls Time On Brainiac". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- Goldacre, Ben (15 July 2006). "Sky's limit for big bangs". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
- "Alkali Metals". Brainiac: Science Abuse. Season 2. Episode 1. 2 September 2004. On Google Video.
- "Brainiac "Fraud" "Slammed" In The Evening Standard And The Independent – Bad Science". badscience.net.
- Goldacre, Ben (22 July 2006). "Smile while you're faking it". The Guardian.
- Gray, Theodore. "Alkali Metal Bangs" and videos. Accessed 23 November 2008.
- Caesium. The Periodic Table of Videos.
- "Alkali metals". OpenLearn.
- JGrantMedia.com Archived 4 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine., J. Grant Buckerfield's website
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