(The Guardian) BBC4 is turning educational TV into an artform with last night’s The Joy of Stats and its beautiful infographics
The image of educational TV was summed up by spoof science seriesLook Around You: basically men in white coats waffling about fractions, theories and discoveries to a cheery Moog soundtrack, while an audience watched under sufferance. But following its many achievements in making the high-brow accessible, BBC4 can now take credit for transforming educational programmes into smart, interesting and entertaining TV delights. It has already given us fascinating programmes about supposedly flat topics – such as The Beauty of Maps and The History of Maths – and last night came The Joy of Stats.
Given that I generally prefer to watch TV in a semi-vegetative state while eating the weight of my head in Minstrels, The Joy of Stats proved a revelation. Partly that was due to presenter Professor Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistical maverick whose voice grew more excitable whenever he said the word “data” (that happened quite a bit) and exuded boundless enthusiasm for the topic. “With statistics,” he shouted, “we can make the data sing.” Perhaps he meant zing: because it wasn’t so much the statistics that blew my tiny little CSE Grade 2 brain, but the way in which they were presented. It was beautiful, as if David Fincher had been tasked with directing an episode of Newsnight.