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Rough Science 6 Colorado: Power Video Diaries: Mike Bullivant

Updated Wednesday, 2nd November 2005

Exclusive video extra in which Mike Bullivant talks about the challenge for the Power programme, from the sixth BBC/OU TV series Rough Science, based in Colorado

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Okay, some thoughts on the first programme we shot. Well, considering that we all had jet lag, we all were suffering from altitude sickness because we were at almost 10,000 feet, I think we all did pretty well. And it’s astonishing, you know, the way these programmes when you’re filming them, you’re really on an emotional roller coaster. For instance, on day two of the shoot Jonathan and Ellen who were working together, they were really getting on a pace and their challenge was really succeeding, but at the end of day two for Hermione and I, or for Hermione and me it wasn’t going so well. But then come day three everything went the other way round. We had such a fabulous start to day three because we got our coal gas generator working so efficiently and almost producing coal gas on demand, whereas Jonathan and Ellen started to meet a few challenges, so it really was this, you know, up and down, up and down.

And I guess you’ve got to face that. I’m always saying that, you know, you’ve got to be able to cope with failure, because most scientists face failure, a lot of failure along the way when they’re doing their work, and you’ve just got to bounce back and put it behind you, rethink it. And that’s what we did, that was the nice thing about going from day two to day three, overnight we’d rethought the design of the coal gas generator and all of the modifications that we made came together to improve the efficiency of it, and it worked like a dream, it really did work like a dream.

And while I’m on the subject of Hermione, I mean she’s such a cracker, she is, I mean I’m really sad that Kathy Sykes isn’t with us because Kathy is such a, you know, integral part of the Rough Science team of scientists, but Hermione’s a pretty good stand-in for her, you know, she gets in, she rolls her sleeves up, she gets the dirt behind her fingernails and that’s just the kind of attitude you want. She looks like an English rose but, you know, this one’s got some thorns on it. Sorry Hermione.

What else can I say? Oh, the tension at the end of day three, I tell you it’s - we were sitting around for a couple of hours because we were quite ahead, Hermione and I, in our project on the third day so we had a few idle hours in the afternoon. And then all of a sudden – it’s like the weather round here goes calm and then all of a sudden there’s a storm comes along, and that’s what added to the tension at the end of day three, we had pretty heavy rain and there’s no way we could have used this in the rain, this coal gas generator, because the insulation wouldn’t have worked and it would have lost its efficiency. So it was touch and go whether we could actually generate any coal gas, and because we had to finish these challenges at the end of day three then if the weather had been against us we’d have been deemed to have failed I think, which is pretty unfair.

Anyway, it all turned out. It was a very tense denouement because they wanted to get the challenges, both Jonathan and Ellen’s challenge and Hermione’s and I, coming together at the end of day three together rather than separately. So it was a difficult shoot but it all went perfectly. We took a few risks in going ahead with it rather than postponing to the day after or, but it went well. Yeah, it went well so I’m happy. It was a great start, it was great for all of us but particularly for Hermione and for the people behind the camera who are new to the team, which is most of them. Yeah, all of them in fact are new to Rough Science, so it’s been a steep learning curve for them, but it’s such a fabulous team and I think we’re all really happy that we’ve got one programme safely under our belts.

We’re just about to start on TV programme 2 and I hope it goes as well, but if it doesn’t that’s not a problem, you know. If at the end of day three we haven’t got a safety lamp for the mine or if Hermione who’s got the most difficult challenge this time with the cloud chamber, if she hasn’t succeeded then put it behind you, get on with TV3. Anyway, if you’re still awake, I think that’s it from me. I’ll see you again. Bye.





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