Ghosts of kaftans, kipper ties and flares

December 13, 2001

To commemorate 30 years of Open University science television programmes, Mike Bullivant of the university’s Science Faculty will be giving a light-hearted presentation about the developments of OU broadcasting over the past three decades, on Thursday December 13.

When the Open University and the BBC joined forces, more than 30 years ago, to make teaching programmes they became pioneers in the way television was used. The programmes represented the cutting-edge television of the day and, despite their primitive look, they were at the time very effective and won many educational awards.

The OU/BBC relationship has come a long way since those early programmes, yet the stigma of those early programmes still remains. The public perception of Open University programmes still conjures images of bearded professors in kaftans, kipper ties and flares which has stuck to the OU reputation and exists as the butt of jokes that persists to this day- even though recent programmes such as the award-winning, prime-time BBC2 series Rough Science, presented by Kate Humble, is a far cry from that image.

But after 30 years Mike Bullivant, who is one of the Rough Science presenters, hopes to lay those ghosts to rest. He has put together a talk illustrated with video excerpts of some of those early OU Science programmes, along with some of the more recent output.

“It’s an affectionate and light-hearted look back through the TV fossil record”, says Mike. “My aim is to show just how far we’ve come in three decades, and how our production values and the uses to which we put OU TV have changed over the last 30 years.”

The 60-minute video/slide presentation is open to everyone and will take place in the Berrill Theatre at the Open University in Milton Keynes on Thursday 13th December, starting at 1pm. Admission is free. If anyone would like further information about attending the event please contact Mike Bullivant on 01908 652515.