08 Jan 2008

The Open University gets Under the Skin of Life in Cold Blood on BBC ONE

Sir David Attenborough and Chameleon

Sir David Attenborough and Chameleon

TX: 9pm, Monday February 4, BBC ONE (repeated on Sunday February 10, 6pm, BBC ONE)

The Open University has funded a series of short films to support Sir David Attenborough’s final landmark BBC ONE nature series with Life in Cold Blood. The series features reptiles and amphibians and completes Sir David’s overview of life on planet Earth.

It is the epic story of the cold-blooded amphibians and reptiles, arguably the most successful creatures to walk on land. They dominated the world for nearly 200 million years and well over 14,000 species still flourish today, with new ones being discovered every week.

Complementing the main Life in Cold Blood series are a series of five, 10-minute programmes called Under the Skin, funded by The Open University, which reveal the in-depth scientific study and breathtaking technical know-how that has gone into the making of the episode it accompanies. They will be screened immediately after the main episode of Life in Cold Blood on BBC ONE.

Panamanian Frog and fake friend

Panamanian Frog and fake friend

Under the Skin will show how, with the help of scientists, new animal behaviour that has never been filmed before. The programme gives an extra look at these fascinating sequences and offer an emotional and intellectual insight into our existing knowledge of reptiles and the voyage of discovery that has lead us to this knowledge.

Out in the field, Sir David Attenborough works with dedicated scientists who help bring this unique behaviour to the screen.
The more science reveals about reptiles and amphibians, the more myths and misconceptions about them are dispelled.

Sir David says: "Reptiles and amphibians are sometimes thought of as slow, dim-witted and primitive. In fact, they can be lethally fast, spectacularly beautiful, surprisingly affectionate and extremely sophisticated".

Under the Skin will reveal their secrets and how they have been uncovered.

Professor Tim Halliday of The Open University and chief academic consultant on Under the Skin said: "It has been a great pleasure to work with the BBC team making Life in Cold Blood and Under the Skin, and to see the wonderful film material that they have put together. Much of this reveals aspects of the behaviour of amphibians and reptiles that are new to science and which have never been filmed before.

"As a Herpetologist (a person who studies amphibians and/or reptiles) it is very exciting to have my favourite animals featured in such a high-profile television series. Because of their generally secretive habitats, these animals are often overlooked in natural history programmes, and this is not helped by the fact that many people find them repellent!"

"Not only does Life in Cold Blood give overdue prominence to these remarkable creatures, but it should also convince viewers that they are every bit as interesting and endearing as birds and mammals.

Tim, who has had a species of Sri-Lankan tree frog named after him, conlcudes: "My personal interest is in the current dramatic decline of amphibians worldwide, a process that has already led to the extinction of several remarkable species. Life in Cold Blood shows how challenging survival and reproduction are for many amphibians and reptiles, as well as highlighting what we will lose if these fascinating animals disappear for ever."

While the programme features reptiles and amphibians from all over the world, The Open University is on hand to encourage viewers to take an interest closer to home.

A free full colour poster featuring the 14 species of reptiles and amphibians that live in the UK will be available following the first episode.

It can be obtained by calling 0870 787 4455 (local rate) or via www.open2.net

Editor’s Notes

Under The Skin is a fully-funded Open University production for BBC ONE.

It will be broadcast from 9pm on Monday February 4 on BBC ONE.

Series Producer for the BBC is Miles Barton, Producer is James Brickell and Executive Producer for The Open University is Catherine McCarthy. The Open University Academic Adviser is Professor Tim Halliday.

The Open University and BBC have been in partnership for more than 30 years, providing educational programming to a mass audience. In recent times this partnership has evolved from late night programming for delivering courses to peak time programmes with a broad appeal to encourage wider participation in learning.

All broadcast information is correct at time of issue.

For previews, images and interview requests please contact Guy Bailey


Related Courses and programmes from the Open University:-
- Y161 Introducing Environment
- S180 Life in the Oceans: Exploring our blue planet
- S193 Fossils and the history of life
- S104 Exploring Science
- S154 Science starts here – a short course
- T172 Working with our Environment: Technology for a sustainable future
- T189 Digital Photography: Creating and sharing better images
- SXR103 Practising Science (Residential Course)
- S204 Biology – uniformity and diversity
- S216 Environmental Science
- SXR216 Environmental Science in the field (Residential Course)

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