OU on the BBC: Lab Rats - Sperm

The weird sperm race! From raw facts to the impact of lifestyle, read the science of sperm. Plus, take the bedroom science challenge

By: The OpenLearn team (Programme and web teams)

  • Duration 5 mins
  • Updated Thursday 15th April 2004
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under TV, Radio & Events
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Mike and Zeron sperm wallshot Copyrighted image Copyright: Production team

Every sperm is sacred. But not all sperm are equal! In the 'Able-Bodied Semen' programme the Lab Rats, Mike Leahy and Zeron Gibson, compete in a unique sporting event, a sperm race. The race will prove which Lab Rat has the fastest, fittest, strongest sperm.

The sperm race is just the tip of the iceberg in the Lab Rats embarrassment. Under the guidance of fertility expert, Allan Pacey (University of Sheffield) the Lab Rats embark on a bizarre and sometimes humiliating journey. The number and quality of their sperm are measured, and they endure a full MOT of their tackle. Good sperm are not much use without a decent erection, so the Rats are sent for an expert assessment of their erections. Testicle size is also related to sperm count, so we discover how Mike and Zeron measure up. Plaster cast moulds of their testicles mark one of the Rats out as an early favourite for the big head-to-head.

To prepare for the sperm race, Mike and Zeron adopt different training routines to experiment with the effects of lifestyle on their sperm. They also bravely agree to abstain from masturbation for different periods of time to discover the effect on the quality of their sperm. They discover the optimum time to save up semen to produce the strongest sperm.

The big climax for the Lab Rats is the sperm race itself - filmed under a microscope inside two tiny glass capillary tubes, but screened in a pub (The Cock Tavern in Birmingham) in front of a rowdy crowd of supporters. This is an event that has never been seen before, a true television first, one man's sperm against another. When the crunch time arrives, which Lab Rat's sperm will come first?