Bang Goes The Theory

Ended Monday / 7:00pm BBC One 30 min.
Dallas Campbell, Liz Bonnin, Jem Stansfield and Dr. Yan Wong take on the scientific world by devising their own ingenious ways of explaining cutting-edge developments in technology.

Season 8

8 Episodes

Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wars - all can trigger not just thousands of casualties and refugees, but also a worldwide humanitarian effort, with the roots for its success founded in science. At the Zaatari refugee camp, temporary home to around 90,000 Syrians, Maggie Philbin looks at the problems the humanitarian community faces when tackling a disaster, and how the lessons learned there might help closer to home. Liz Bonnin comes face to face with cholera, one of the most feared bacteria on the planet. And the team are joined by Dr Chris Van Tulleken, who makes Plumpy'nut, a simple peanut-based paste that has saved tens of thousands of famine victims.
May 05 2014
Trains 8x07
The High Speed 2 railway network has been a hotly debated topic in recent months. But what about the existing system? It's believed that by the time HS2 is built, the current infrastructure will need to cope with twice as many passengers as now, so the team looks at the measures being taken to ensure the ageing system stays on track. Liz Bonnin explores the possibility that signals may disappear and how hearing impairment could be one of the bigger killers on the railway, and Maggie Philbin reveals how a train travelling at 125mph is set to revolutionise trackside maintenance
Apr 28 2014
With the waters receding, Bang Goes the Theory takes a more considered look at the recent floods. Did global warming play a part, or is this simply the extreme end of the natural cycle? Maggie investigates the real threat of storm surge as water levels rise, Liz Bonnin looks at how to use nature to 'slow the flow' and the team are joined by Charlie Dimmock who wants to know if her love for patios and decking might have played a part in creating urban flash floods.
Apr 14 2014
Flu 8x05
We have got used to hearing scare stories about strange strains of flu with names like H1N1, but is there any real danger? Jem Stansfield explains flu on a cellular level, showing how it can mutate from a cause of winter snuffles to a virus capable of killing millions. Liz Bonnin witnesses the vaccines being made that will protect us next winter. Maggie Philbin visits a lab where healthy patients are infected with flu, and witnesses exactly how it attacks.
Apr 07 2014
Aging 8x04
The good news that we are living longer brings with it the bad news that many of us will suffer the ill effects of old age as a result. Maggie Philbin looks at how our muscles and bones change as we get older. Liz Bonnin explains how bones are made and how they weaken with age, then looks at a human brain growing in a petri dish, that could pave the way for a cure to diseases like Alzheimer's. Finally the team are joined by Sir Terry Wogan, who goes on a personal quest to find out if there are any drugs currently available which could reduce his risk of developing dementia.
Mar 31 2014
We are living through a revolution that is bigger than the world wide web. The technology we are all using every day is beginning to share our data gadget to gadget, storing and analysing unimaginable amounts of data. The use of our data now known as big data will change our world in ways unimaginable. Liz Bonnin looks at how big data monitors Rolls Royce jet engines dozens of times a second wherever they are in the world, and how that same system of analytics can automatically detect secondary brain injury in intensive care units. Jem Stansfield creates a low-tech computer and storage system with hacksaw blades and magnets. And with the government about to allow private companies access to our medical data, Maggie Philbin examines the dark side of big data: privacy. Just how much information on each and every one of us is out there, and how easy is it to find?
Mar 24 2014
Cancer 8x02
It is 60 years since a British doctor first made the link between smoking and lung cancer, and now it seems we may finally be starting to win the battle against nature's most vicious disease. Liz Bonnin explains how cells turn cancerous by blowing high-tech bubbles. Jem Stansfield builds his own radiotherapy gun, Maggie Philbin looks at the latest drugs, and the team are joined by Ground Force's Tommy Walsh, who looks into screening for bowel cancer.
Mar 17 2014
Energy 8x01
Presenters Jem Stansfield, Liz Bonnin and Maggie Philbin investigate how close Britain might get to running out of electricity. We live in a world where the lights are always on, but will that be the case in 20 years time? Maggie Philbin spends a day in one of Britain's most secret locations, the control room of the National Grid where she monitors our demand for electricity with supply. Here she learns almost half our generating capacity will disappear in our lifetimes. Jem shows how and why most of our electricity now relies on gas and reveals a potential fuel of the future - liquid air. Liz investigates renewable energy and tackles what could really offer viable solutions to our energy needs going forward.
Mar 10 2014

Season 7

8 Episodes

Air pollution is now second only to smoking as a killer in the UK, yet as a nation we are failing to meet targets on reducing emissions. The team investigate what air pollution is, where it comes from, and what it is doing to us. Jem Stansfield reveals that cleaner-looking air doesn't necessarily mean healthier air; and he demonstrates why modern diesel engines, in spite of their growing green credentials, may be bigger polluters than petrol. Maggie Philbin follows some typical commuters to reveal how much pollution we all actually breathe in, and she also finds out how a soap powder additive could turn all our clothes into personal pollution filters. And while people continue to worry about the health of their lungs, Liz Bonnin investigates new research that suggests it may be our hearts that are more at risk from air pollution.
Apr 29 2013
In this episode, the team explore the new era of personal medicine. With people taking ever bigger roles in their own health care, for the first time you can be in the driving seat when it comes to medicine. Maggie Philbin explores the rise of online diagnosis tools, putting them to the test against a real doctor, and also reports on the revolution in personally tailored medicine that is giving new life to young asthma sufferers; Jem Stansfield tests out the very latest in self-monitoring gadgets as he investigates the world of self-tracking; while Liz Bonnin finds out how a rare genetic condition that causes blindness can be corrected by a new technique that actually alters your genes.
Apr 22 2013
In this episode, the team look at Britain under pressure. With the population of the UK topping 63 million, what are scientists and engineers doing to reduce the strain on our ageing infrastructure? Maggie heads 50 metres beneath the River Thames to see how the UK's biggest ever water engineering project aims to prevent raw sewage flowing into the Thames every time heavy rain overwhelms London's sewers; Liz explores the possibilities of urban underground farming, and also finds out how engineers protect us from smells like landfill; while Jem investigates a new idea that could help to tackle the problem of overcrowded graveyards.
Apr 15 2013
With the recent horsemeat scandal fresh in our minds, the team ask how much we really know about what's on our dinner plate, and investigate the surprising world of food technology. Maggie finds out how scientists use DNA to identify what is in ready meals, and why the horsemeat scandal wasn't detected earlier; and she asks how much of our food is actually a product of the chemistry lab. Liz investigates how flavour scientists have been fooling our taste buds for years, and finds out what makes meat taste of meat; while Jem explores the science of suspended animation that keeps old food looking deceptively fresh on the shelf.
Apr 08 2013
Safety 7x04
The team look at some of the things threatening the safety of your family on a daily basis. Liz finds out why old and very young pedestrians may never be safe crossing the road; on the anniversary of Fabrice Muamba's miraculous survival following a heart attack playing for Bolton Wanderers, Maggie asks how many young people could be carrying a similar time-bomb, and how science can help them; Maggie also investigates a revolutionary new burns dressing that could drastically reduce the risk of scarring; and Jem turns crash-test dummy as he asks why European legislation is preparing to make rear-facing seats compulsory for more children.
Mar 25 2013
Sugar 7x03
Sugar is on trial in this programme. Widely blamed for all manner of health issues beyond rotten teeth and expanding waistlines, the team investigate whether sugar really deserves such a lousy health reputation. Jem sets out to make some pure, white, granulated sugar of his own, while Maggie meets a surprise victim of fatty liver disease. Maggie also discovers how sugar is being used to preserve life-saving vaccines, while Liz explores the power sugar has to switch on our brains.
Mar 18 2013
In response to recent fears about the future of antibiotics, the team investigates germs and infection. Liz Bonnin reveals why doctors can be reluctant to prescribe antibiotics for coughs and colds, and explains what bacterial resistance is all about. Maggie Philbin finds out whether people are right to worry about catching infections when cooped up inside an aeroplane, and reveals a remarkable new technique that takes the guesswork out of prescribing antibiotics. Meanwhile, Jem Stansfield heads to a scrapyard for a striking demonstration of the difference between viruses and bacteria.
Mar 11 2013
Plastic 7x01
From food-fraud to flu, from plastics to poisons, and from superbugs to sugar, TV science legend Maggie Philbin joins presenters Liz Bonnin and Jem Stansfield as the team investigate the science that makes sense of the stories that affect us all. Over the course of this series: Maggie finds out if planes really are the incubators of disease we think they are, while Liz explains why antibiotics are running out; Jem discovers how gasses are used to keep food fresh, while Liz explores the DNA testing used to identify food that isn't what it claims to be; the team put sugar and plastics on trial to find out if they really are as much of a health risk as some might believe - discovering some surprising new medical uses for both; and child safety comes under the microscope as we ask why the same accidents put young people at risk year after year.
Mar 04 2013

Season 6

8 Episodes

The team sets out to discover what is behind our special relationship with dogs. In Austria, Liz visits researchers comparing dogs to wolves to see how domestication has shaped canine wits. Philippa Forrester takes her pet to a lab to find out how dogs really can be good for your health, while the team set their very own Dog Mastermind to see if it is dog intelligence that we love.
May 14 2012
Traffic 6x07
The team looks at some of the biggest travel nightmares. Liz investigates what causes traffic jams, whether lane switching works, and how to beat travel sickness. Meanwhile Jem heads for his workshop to build his own solution to traffic jams: a home-made, man-powered aeroplane.
Apr 30 2012
Energy 6x06
Jem dreams of flying under his own power by pedalling a homemade plane into the air. He sets out to discover why muscles get tired, and to see if he can boost his own using nothing more than beetroot. Meanwhile, Liz explores how hormones and blood sugar affect our energy levels and mood, and Dallas sweats himself to a standstill as he tries to answer the question 'Do we really need to drink eight glasses of water a day?'.
Apr 23 2012
The team look at the health implications of wireless signals with the assistance of Howard Stableford. Jem looks at the possibility of electricity without wires and Liz finds out how mobile phones could help protect people from injury.
Apr 16 2012
Crowds 6x04
Dallas learns how people in crowds can cooperate subconsciously. Liz learns how architects can control the flow of crowds. Jem talks to some scientists who are attempting to understand how crush injuries can occur. Johnny Ball shows how biologists measure population size.
Apr 02 2012
Liz finds out how safe digital storage formats such as DVDs and memory sticks are, and whether the Cloud answers all our problems. Dallas and Jem see what it takes to properly wipe your computer memory, and Maggie Philbin revisits phone security after nearly 30 years, investigating how hackers can access your smartphone.
Mar 26 2012
The team asks whether modern life is damaging our ears. Dallas explores how safety-conscious scientists are putting the noise back into driving, Liz learns to like the sound of being sick, and Jem sets out to record the sound of a centipede's footsteps.
Mar 19 2012
The team investigates why petrol costs so much, and whether we can use science to make fuel for free. Liz experiences life on an oil rig, Jem and Dallas compete to make their own DIY fuel alternatives, and Jem discovers the link between fossil fuels and a recent earthquake in Lancashire.
Mar 12 2012

Season 5

8 Episodes

In the aftermath of the Fukushima radiation scare, the team turns its attention to nuclear power. Jem climbs into a reaction chamber to explain how a nuclear power station works and what happened in Japan. Meanwhile, Dallas investigates the clean-up operation for radioactive waste, and Liz looks at what radiation does to the human body.
Oct 03 2011
Dallas investigates a potential global helium shortage, Dr Yan tests shoppers on how much they know about radiation, and Liz tries out the new airport security technology that can see beneath your clothes.
Sep 26 2011
Dallas attempts to find out what causes tooth decay and gum disease. Yan explains the reason why refreezing food is not a good idea. Jem takes a look at some new research that claims electric lights can play havoc with the way we sleep.
Sep 19 2011
Liz investigates an increasingly common and unwelcome guest - the bedbug. Meanwhile, Yan explains why statistics are not to be trusted, and Dallas goes stargazing in California.
Sep 12 2011
Liz Bonnin investigates new stem-cell research that could change the face of organ transplant surgery, Dr Yan Wong tries out the Nocebo effect (placebo's evil twin), and at a memory boot camp Dallas Campbell discovers how to remember where he left his keys.
Sep 05 2011
Jem Stansfield witnesses the power of rockets as he spends time with the team working on the Bloodhound land-speed record project. Dr Yan Wong re-creates an ancient Greek experiment to measure Earth's circumference with two sticks, and Dallas Campbell goes in search of a robot he can call his own.
Aug 29 2011
In the second episode of the science series, Liz hits the beach with the RNLI to experience the power of rip currents; Dr Yan attempts to demonstrate evolution by drawing a couple of lines; and Jem is back in the workshop, turning everyday scrap into gold.
Aug 22 2011
Jem makes his own diamond and then proves they aren't forever. Dr Yan explains the science of popcorn, and Dallas investigates why we haven't cured cancer yet, meeting the team that hope to change that.
Aug 15 2011

Season 4

8 Episodes

Jem visits a mega-plant in Sussex to investigate the future of recycling. Dallas explains how GPS works and how it is changing our world, and Dr Yan uses science to crack the classic magic trick in which a table cloth is whipped from under a dinner service.
May 02 2011
This episode of the series that reveals your world with a bang has a royal wedding theme. Jem builds a singing road as a present for the royal couple. Dr Yan explains the science of dad dancing. And Liz uses DNA to track her family tree right back to the earliest humans.
Apr 25 2011
Liz looks at the controversial science of genetically modified crops in Hawaii. Dallas tries to remedy Jem's dust allergy by making him eat worms. And Dr Yan tries to shatter a glass by playing the violin.
Apr 18 2011
Jem Stansfield explains lasers on the 50th anniversary of their invention, Dallas takes part in a Citizen Science experiment and Dr. Yan calculates the speed of light.
Apr 11 2011
Jem explains what a calorie is by making the rest of the gang take part in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. Yan is at the Houses of Parliament to test the ability of MPs to calculate risk. Liz attempts to find out why effective antibiotics are in short supply.
Apr 04 2011
Dallas goes supersonic and meets the team behind a 1000mph car. Jem looks at what makes stuff sticky and makes homemade glues to test out on the other presenters and Dr Yan puzzles commuters with an optical illusion.
Mar 28 2011
In the second episode of the series, Liz follows two couples undertaking IVF and looks at the new research that may dramatically increase success rates. Jem attempts to become the first man to go 360 degrees on a playground swing. And Dr Yan confuses shoppers with the help of a very special mirror.
Mar 21 2011
In the first of a new series, Bang Goes the Theory looks at the science behind the recent devastating Japanese earthquake and the tsunami it triggered. The programme explains what happened and examines the technology that attempts to protect us from the shocking power of our planet.
Mar 14 2011

Season 3

6 Episodes

Jem faces his toughest challenge yet: to build a boat made out of ice, and take it and the rest of the team for a spin in one of the UK's busiest stretches of water. Dallas investigates the world of comets and tries to build his own, while Liz looks at the science behind hypothermia and gets repeatedly dunked into ice-cold water in preparation for the ice boat extravaganza.
Oct 13 2010
Liz visits the volcano that brought Britain to a standstill, and examines its aftermath and the likelihood of a re-occurrence. Dallas blows the budget in Vegas to explain why people are so bad at predicting probabilities. Jem borrows a solar furnace in France to demonstrate the awesome power of the sun.
Oct 06 2010
Dallas looks at the origins of our weather and explains how the emergence of seasons allowed life to form, all with the help of a grenade launcher. Jem travels to Scotland to check out the latest green technology - wave power. And Liz meets Richard Dawkins to prove evolution.
Sep 29 2010
Liz conducts an experiment into jetlag and how to avoid it, while Dallas demonstrates the size of the solar system with the help of a bicycle and a fruit bowl. And Jem upgrades his square-wheeled skateboard to a motorbike, before trying to jump it into the record books.
Sep 22 2010
In the second episode of the series, the team take on more scientific challenges. Liz Bonnin looks at the science behind sunburn, and discovers how much sun damage she has on her face. Dallas Campbell tries to make museum visitors younger and smarter in a series of psychological experiments. And Jem Stansfield proves that wheels don't have to be round by building a square-wheeled skateboard. The programme is co-produced with the Open University. For more ways to put science to the test, go to and follow the links to The Open University.
Sep 15 2010
In this episode, the team investigate the recent Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. Zoologist Liz Bonnin travels to Louisiana and takes part in the rescue effort to protect the area's wildlife, while Jem Stansfield builds a scale model to explain what happens when an oil well gets out of control, and how to solve the problem. Meanwhile, Dallas Campbell proves Einstein's theory of relativity with the help of a jet plane and a very expensive atomic clock.
Sep 08 2010

Season 2

8 Episodes

Liz Bonnin launches a large experiment to learn about the nation's sense of smell, and Dallas Campbell investigates new evidence that life on Earth might have originated in space. Dr Yan Wong hands out free wine to shoppers in Rugby, and on the 25th anniversary of Back to the Future, Jem Stansfield tries to build a car fuelled by junk. Last in the series
May 10 2010
Jem straps a race horse to his car to explain what horsepower is, Liz sets Dallas a free diving challenge that leaves him gasping for air, Dr Yan shows shoppers how to burn steel, and Dallas goes to CERN to see how a cosmic tea party created everything in the universe.
May 03 2010
Dallas hits the streets to discover what makes us happy, while Liz travels to Norway to investigate the latest technology to combat climate change. Jem puts himself in harm's way in avalanche country, and Dr Yan sets an optical illusion challenge to a WI meeting.
Apr 26 2010
The team start by looking at the science behind the recent volcanic ash crisis that grounded Europe's planes. In the rest of the programme, Jem Stansfield visits a power station to explain why steam is still powering the country, while Dallas hits the slopes to discover the science behind skiing.
Apr 19 2010
Liz Bonnin, Dallas Campbell, Jem Stansfield and Dr Yan Wong take on more experiments and scientific challenges. Jem hits the furnace to make steel and discovers how it built the modern world, while Liz investigates whether science can help humans live forever. Dallas turns into a dolphin with the help of the latest US technology, and Yan challenges museum visitors to make fire out of thin air.
Apr 12 2010
Dallas takes on the latest lie detection technology, while Liz looks at the dilemma that threatened to undermine her hero Charles Darwin. Jem faces his toughest challenge yet, to build a human-powered hydrofoil, and Dr Yan gets on the 3D bandwagon.
Mar 29 2010
Liz Bonnin, Dallas Campbell and Jem Stansfield take on more scientific challenges. Engineer Jem becomes a crash test dummy to discover how much g-force his body can take, while scientist Liz gets the Olympic treatment for Sport Relief. Dallas enters the weird world of the atom, and roving reporter Dr Yan Wong dives into a shark tank to explain why there are no long snorkels.
Mar 22 2010
Engineer Jem tries to smash a land speed record with the help of a single fire extinguisher, a go kart and a well oiled spanner. In an experiment that you really shouldn't try at home, Jem builds himself a go-kart attached to a staggeringly powerful fire extinguisher that uses the laws of physics to fire him along a race track and into the record books. With oil prices rising every year, Dallas takes on an issue that concerns all of us. What will we do when the oil runs out? At the moment, across the globe, we use 85 million barrels of crude oil every single day but the fact is that our oil supplies can't last forever. With Richard Branson as one of his guides, Dallas looks at the future of oil explorations, and tells us what this means for our wallets. Liz goes behind the scenes of the real CSI (the Forensic Science Service) to meet the scientists working with the police to solve real crimes. With one crime, three suspects and no DNA evidence, Liz launches her very own forensic investigation to catch the bad guy. Bang Goes the Theory is co-produced with The Open University. For more ways to put science to the test, go to and follow the links to The Open University.
Mar 15 2010

Season 1

10 Episodes

The team take on more scientific challenges. Jem Stansfield decides to build a rocket powered by toffee and then thinks it would be a good idea to ride it. Liz Bonnin investigates our sense of smell and whether it can make us smarter. Dr Yan Wong demonstrates the connection between electricity and magnetism. And Dallas Campbell explains nuclear fusion by going to the circus.
Oct 05 2009
Jem Stansfield puts spider silk - the strongest material in the natural world - to the test; Liz Bonnin joins the RAF's flight school to find out the truth about multi-tasking; Dr Yan Wong experiments with sodium acetate; and Dallas Campbell dusts off his top hat to reveal the secret science of magic.
Sep 28 2009
Jem Stansfield builds a microwave death ray to prove the existence of invisible and untapped energy, Liz Bonnin takes on the nature versus nurture debate with a troop of monkeys, Dr Yan Wong explains how gyroscopes work with the help of a couple of office chairs, and Dallas Campbell decides to save the world of physics from crisis by trying to find a missing bit of the universe.
Sep 21 2009
Jem Stansfield tests out new braking systems that won't burn money, Liz Bonnin looks into the origins of speech by trying to wipe out someone's speech cortex, Dallas Campbell takes part in a sea race with Dame Ellen MacArthur to try and explain why British summers are rubbish and Dr Yan Wong explains a common optical illusion.
Sep 14 2009
Jem Stansfield takes to the air with the Royal Navy to explain how helicopters work, while Liz Bonnin puts brain training devices to the test. Dallas Campbell investigates the new space entrepeneurs in California, and Dr Yan Wong shows how to melt glass with a microwave.
Sep 07 2009
Jem Stansfield attempts to defeat the US Navy's latest weapon with no more than some foam and a crash helmet. Zoologist Liz Bonnin gets in contact with her frog brain, Dallas Campbell re-programmes his caveman brain to become a thrill-seeker, and Dr Yan Wong gets his thrills from inhaling sulphur hexafluoride.
Aug 24 2009
The team take on more popular science. Liz Bonnin investigates recent research into the magnetic qualities of cows, while Dallas Campbell puts psychological priming to the test. Dr Yan Wong demonstrates why rockets work in space with the help of an underwater firework, and Jem Stansfield tries to put the programme in the space race.
Aug 17 2009
In the latest of the series that puts science to the test, the team takes on more fun experiments and challenges. Dallas Campbell traces the incredible global journey of 30,000 indestructible plastic ducks, while Liz Bonnin goes on manoeuvres at the bottom of the Baltic Sea in the Royal Navy's latest search and rescue sub. Dr Yan Wong challenges the people of Cardiff to take on the might of friction, and Jem Stansfield uses two domestic vacuum cleaners to climb up the side of a building.
Aug 10 2009
In this second episode of the series, the team take on more scientific challenges. Engineer Jem Stansfield designs, builds and then puts his life in his hands by tying himself to a water jet pack. Zoologist Liz Bonnin finds out if insects are the future of food, science-mad Dallas Campbell investigates NASA's latest attempts to prove there is life beyond Earth, and roving reporter Dr Yan Wong challenges the people of Cambridge to blow up a bin liner.
Aug 03 2009
Jem Stansfield builds a vortex cannon to pick up where the big bad wolf failed to blow over a house of brick; Dallas Campbell takes on the big brother technology that will track every one of us simply by the way we walk; Liz Bonnin confronts the controversial US scientist working to create the first generation of artificial life; and Dr Yan Wong tackles unsuspecting shoppers with a simple question: how do you cook an egg with a piece of newspaper?
Jul 27 2009