A panel of resident experts answer viewer questions about science.




1975   1974  


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Series cast summary:
Miriam Stoppard
(9 episodes, 1974-1975)
Rob Buckman
(9 episodes, 1974-1975)
David Bellamy
(9 episodes, 1974-1975)
Adrienne Posta ...
 Herself (9 episodes, 1974-1975)
Magnus Pyke
(8 episodes, 1974-1975)
Austin Mitchell ...
 Compere (5 episodes, 1974)
Derek Griffiths
(4 episodes, 1975)


In this series, viewers sent in questions about science and a regular panel of scientists, like the manically enthusiastic Magnus Pyke, stepped up to the challenge to supply the answers. However, rather than simply telling the answers, this series went the extra mile with wild demonstrations of the scientific facts in question. Whether it was shooting a woman out of a cannon to see she could be squashed shorter, or putting water soluble foam rabbits into a hat, this series made science education a fun experience. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

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Did You Know?


The theme tune was "House of the King" by the Dutch prog rock band Focus See more »


Featured in 70s: The Best of Bad TV (2015) See more »


House of the King
Written by Jan Akkerman
Performed by Focus
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User Reviews

The Mad Scientist Show!
20 May 2007 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

What did I.T.V. used to show in the bad old days before it became obsessed with soap? The answer - sitcoms, U.S. imports, nature documentaries of the 'Survival' variety, and shows such as 'Don't Ask Me'. It was science for the masses ( some would say 'dumbed down' science, and it probably was ), but done with a knowing wink.

Three resident boffins - David Bellamy, Magnus Pyke and Miriam Stoppard

  • took it in turn to answer viewers' questions. These ranged from 'why

does water taste minty after you've been sucking Polo mints for a couple of hours?' to 'how did the salt get in the sea?' and 'how do birds know when to migrate'?'. It was 'How!' for adults.

The first show drew complaints after Stoppard was seen hurling babies into a pool, apparently to prove they had a natural ability to swim. No-one drowned, but even so, it was a disturbing sight to behold. A couple of the toddlers looked really terrified.

The show probably would have been cancelled after one season were it not for one magic ingredient - the boffins themselves. Bellamy's mangling of the English language made him a boon to impressionists such as Lenry Henry and Stanley Baxter; Pyke dressed like William Hartnell's 'Dr.Who' and couldn't say two words without turning into a human windmill; Stoppard simply looked gorgeous.

The original presenter was actor Derek Griffiths. His successors included actor Brian Clover and future Labour M.P. for Grimsby Austin Mitchell. Allegedly Adrienne Posta auditioned for the job, only to be rejected on the grounds she was too young and trendy! What could have been a stuffy old science lecture peopled by boring old fogeys in cravats instead became a masterclass in English eccentricity. Every boffin had his/her fans. Mine was Pyke. 'Don't Ask Me' made him an overnight star, leading to appearances on 'Celebrity Squares' and 'Parkinson' etc.

I doubt whether anyone became a scientist as a result of watching 'Don't Ask Me', but it was a lot more fun than what's in that Wednesday 7 P.M. slot nowadays. And if it got kids asking questions such as 'what is the Ozone layer for?' then so much the better.

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