Dallas Campbell is best known as the face of some of television’s most popular factual programmes. From classic shows like The Sky At Night and Stargazing Live, to comedic takes on science like Science of Stupid, and Bang Goes the Theory, he has been a key figure in science communication for both adults and children.
Now, he’s voicing his passion for STEM in podcast form. Patented: History of Inventions is Dallas’ new science history podcast with the History Hit network. With inventions from the atomic bomb to condoms being covered, it’ll no doubt be another fun way to get some lifelong learning.
We caught up with Dallas for a quick-fire interview about the show…
Tell us a bit about the show – how did you get involved?
The show is about the interesting, and sometimes surprising stories of how things came to be – lifting the curtain on those famous eureka moments as well as hunting down forgotten stories that are just downright weird. I have always been fascinated by the history of science and engineering and with this show we wanted to correct the many misconceptions that surround the stories of inventions and also celebrate unsung heroes who history has often forgotten.
You’ve worked a lot in television, you’re a writer… Why was podcasting the right medium for this project?
Well, with a podcast you’re a lot freer to explore wherever you want to go! It’s just a light and nimble format. The complexities of making television often make it very unwieldy, so this series is a perfect antidote to the faff of telly. And I can do it from my house.
And it’s coming out twice weekly – that’s quite a feat! Are you nervous about the schedule?
Bring it on! Although I’m concerned about Em, our producer…
Are there any podcasts or hosts you’ve been influenced by?
I adore This American Life, with Ira Glass, which I’ve been listening to since before podcasts were invented. There’s too much good stuff out there. I tend to get influenced by whoever I’m listening to at the time and want to be them.
Thinking about the most impactful ideas, the atomic bomb will probably be on most people’s list, but condoms might be forgotten by many! How did the podcast team decide which ideas to start with?
Basically we just made a big list of stuff that interested us. Or stuff we think might be funny. Or surprising. Sometimes I’ll have an idea at 4am and I’ll Whatsapp it to Em our producer. I don’t think she minds at all.
If you have to pick, what’s the invention that has most impacted your life?
Jeepers. Too many to pick. Perhaps the Space Suit? It’s an object that I’ve been fascinated about for years and years and seems to keep cropping up in my life. There was a time I shared my flat with 4 real spacesuits. Some people think it’s a bit creepy.
Where can readers find out more?
They can stop me on the street and ask me.