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SPM and the Sky at Night


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I'm sure this or variants of it have been discussed before but I'd like to bring it up again if you have the patience - I'm quite new to astronomy and am really enjoying myself and hope this is a hobby for life but having watched the Sky at Night regularly for years I'm starting to become disillusioned by the programme itself because of the constant deference to SPM.

I don't agree with Knighthoods / OBEs etc but this is a totally separate argument and not for one second would I try and denigrate the great man's achievements in furthering astronomy and his personal contribution is not the point of my post - the point I am making is the programme itself spends far too much time sucking up (for want of a better word).

This is Sir Patricks original telescope that, this is where Sir Patrick originally observed, This is the painting in Sir Patricks - its just constant. Then that insufferable impressionist relives it again and again

I know theres a place for sentimentality and nostalgia and every show needs an anchor man but it just grates with me.

I know I may be committing astronomical heresy with this but am I alone in thinking this way?

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But the real problem I see is that nobody can replace him. Patrick simply can not, nor ever wil be replaced. If the Beeb think they continue the show for another 50 yrs...............best of luck to t

I don't believe you are alone in feeling that way and I understand your viewpoint. Personally I don't mind the constant referencing and I am sure that when Sir Patrick eventually retires the programme

I called him, "Sir Patrick" once. He turned at me and said quite defiantly, "Do not call me sir.". Oh-kay, then! He's definitely an institution, a national treasure but yes I think the format of the

I don't believe you are alone in feeling that way and I understand your viewpoint. Personally I don't mind the constant referencing and I am sure that when Sir Patrick eventually retires the programme will eventually take on a different form and probably represent something akin to your expectations of how it ought to be. To be honest, he has been doing that programme for such a long time that it is inevitable that it starts to take on the form of an institution but I think we can forgive the programmes makers a little here given that Sir Patrick has given the best part of his life to astronomy and if that means we treat him almost as a deity for a while I don't see the harm.

I am sure that like many here, I enjoy watching the Sky At Night programme although I confess that it is not my main source of astro information and I find plenty on the internet to sustain me between the monthly instalments. I suppose that in a media led world that is constantly fidgeting over the latest fashion for this or that, where distraction takes precedent over discernment, I quite like the idea of an old fashioned programme format that for many of us (of a certain age :eek: ) can for a while be reminiscent about. For the BBC, having a presenter who actually knows their subject is pretty rare these days and is therefore a good reminder of one of the goods things about television.

James

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I wish it was actually more deferential and less patronising towards SPM. The other presenters often appear to ignore what he is saying. He has a lifetime's worth of experience and gravitas. The references to his scopes etc etc seems to me to be a substitute for allowing him to speak.

OK he's old and because he still talks fast on occasion with that combination he can be a little hard to understand. But I loathe the 'modernisation' of the program AKA 'dumbing down'....why do we need an impressionist on the show, can someone remind me because I appear to have forgotten?

You cannot overestimate his contribution to astronomy, it's impossible to do so.

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why do we need an impressionist on the show, can someone remind me because I appear to have forgotten?

I don't know really, apart from the fact he's a keen amateur astronomer (like the rest of us), but SPM actually seems to enjoy it, and seems quite amused by the whole thing. If he ain't worried, I'm not going to worry about it either. I don't find the other guys on the show patronising towards SPM myself, they seem genuinely quite fond of him. They just give me the impression of being there to help him should he stumble ... which he does occasionally, bless him :)

Edited by Black Knight
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I called him, "Sir Patrick" once. He turned at me and said quite defiantly, "Do not call me sir.". Oh-kay, then! :)

He's definitely an institution, a national treasure but yes I think the format of the programme does need to move on. But who would present it next? No doubt there are quite a few people who want presenting roles but can any of them carry the show?

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Even though it is a bit of a bad thought of who should take over the programme even though the person is still albe to wake up and talk to you is like someone discussing who will split your equipment while you are still in the room. I guess the BBC has considered it or SPM has said to have someone take over after.

As for format? SPM is no spring chicken as you can see from the clip provided. In 2006 he had an operation for a pacemaker which will have slowed him down a bit but he is still going strong. And I guess with him being a amateur astronomer like ourselves I doubt no one would ever get to be knighted without a monumental discovery nor manage to hold the longest running TV show this world has known (some Americans will claim they have but Guinness records say otherwise). The way it is done as in the past has always been parodied in so many ways and SPM has gone along with it. You do a parody of any poopular TV personality and they get lawyers and threaten defamation of character.

SPM has always been the more laid back people on TV and even today the format needs to appeal to not only people who are so "hardcore" in astronomy but to the casual observer who would like to know what that star is and how far away. If it was still the same format and have just SPM would people watch it as a old man sat in the corner talk about astronomy while everyone else will have inside their heads a reference to Yoda? Chris Lintott and the others are keeping the programme from falling down and dying away. It needs to capture the youth and the older generation alike. The John Culshaw aspect is two fold: John is agood impressionist and can do a good impression of SPM from early on and also, like us, a keen amateur astronomer. Even Brian May and Professor Brian Cox has said it was SPM that gave them the inspiration of astronomy.

Sky at night and SPM is the most under rated show but also the most inspired for science. I doubt anyone would have been keen on astronomy today if the series was cancelled after a few episodes and it was not showing today. Apart from all the TV shows I record on the Virgin Media Box that are always shown, sky at night is the only one for permanent record in HD from the BBC. And after seeing the show years ago I still watch it even if the show has changed and we don't really like the way it is done by some, it is still the only current TV show dedicated to science the BBC has not axed or tried to get different presenters to host it. For that I will quietly speak up for it and gently rebuff any criticism. The show may have changed, but so has TV itself. People should remember that and today be grateful we still have a programme dedicated to this hobby and not the bus spotters monthly or cheese growers who do astrology whille fleecing you out of money for blank readings.

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I wish it was actually more deferential and less patronising towards SPM.

Tend to agree with CFC on this.

Equally the BBC seem to be putting a team of people in where just one or two do a better job (not just S@N). Not sure that the teams they drop in are all that good. Someone says an idea is that BC could take over, Again he made a series where it was just him presenting, I suspect that he would just be another face in the present format of S@N.

Have had the impression that people on the show have been manouvering for the presenter position when SPM retires. That might be the reason for the deference/patronising, anyone that doesn't do that will find many viewers against them.

Who could take over? Difficult !

Perhaps they will change the program format, a bit more technical information would be useful. Perhaps less often but for an hour more in line with stargazing live - every 3 months ? I do not think the present format works as I see 4 spmetimes 5 presenters all trying to make their point and inpression.

Don't think it has been dumbed down as I think it was only ever informative. Perhaps that is what is required. However astronomy can be either simple as in oserving and a little information or somewhat technical. If kept informative then I then maybe pick a prominent constellation every month and list and discuss the objects in it. Gives observers, as most of us are, an idea of what it is possible to see. Would say that until SPM retires that the format will have to stay as it is.

Biggest concern is that when SPM retires the BBC could drop the whole show.

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I watch and read Sky at Night and I can understand where your coming from.

I would like the show to give a lot more information. SPM contributes greatly to the magazine with Moonwatch and the universe according to Sir Patrick Moore (though I think that title could be changed) but on the show he is doesn't do much. The "field work" is left to the other presenters.

Also I agree that Brian Cox would make a great Sky at Night presenter.

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When you factor out other presenters and see the age of SPM, he is the only one on TV that old and still appearing on TV. That type of credit should be unreserved in the programme itself. At the grand age of 89 how many people are still doing TV programmes once a month and flying the flag for a hobby? :shocked:

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I watch and read Sky at Night and I can understand where your coming from.

I would like the show to give a lot more information.

Also I agree that Brian Cox would make a great Sky at Night presenter.

The monthly CD in the magazine has SPM talking about the celestial month and any other information is given out there.

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SPM not only presents S@N, he IS S@N. Unfortunately his health is not good.This has affected his speech clarity which I for one can manage. More importantly his mobility has become very badly affected, which means he can no longer leave his seat to present or make visits to places away from his home easily. These factors are anathema to programme planners, and account for the current "committee" style presentation. What endures is the core of enthusiasm and knowledge which Patrick still radiates. As others have said, he should continue for as long as he feels able to.

For the future I don't see any of the regular contributors taking over. Whilst they all have good points I don't feel they have the necessary qualities to carry the programme. Many people seem to support Brian Cox for the post. I must disagree. He is OK when in discussion with others, but I find his pieces to camera totally underwhelming. He seems uncomfortable and unnatural, as if he is reading from a script he has not seen before and is following a teleprompter. He is also a cosmologist rather than an astronomer. S@N manages a good balance of he various topics connected with astronomy, unlike the monthly magazines, which for my taste focus much too heavily on cosmology and astrophotography. What is required is a presenter who is an astronomer or "all-rounder" with a natural and ungeeky style. If he would do it my vote would go to Brian May.

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I think if he and the BBC want the show to continue in the years to come then the show has to modernise and move on quickly, SPM is a legend in the S@N world but now that people can barely understand what he says I think its time to move on. It will be a sad day but is much needed IMO.

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As Brian May and John Culshaw are both keen amateur astronomers, both would make excellent presenters. Culshaw though has more experience in front of camera than May though.

For me, the programme would be a very hard slot to fill. It would need a overhaul and put into a more modern multi presenter format so different aspects could be presented. That or have another presenter who is a astronomer (maybe professional) and can handle the format quite well. Mind you Dara O Briain has presented Skywatch Live and has some knowledge as well.

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I don't think the other presenter necessarily patronise Patrick Moore. I tweet quite regularly with Paul Abel, and less regularly with Chris Lintott, and they genuinely seem to have a lot of affection and respect for him.

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Brian Cox? Chris Lintott? Pah!

The next presenter has already shown himself as a "shoe-in".

Step forward - -

Richard Hammond.

With his devil-may-care presenting style and recent astonishing success with "natural world" TV he must be top of Auntie's wanted list and just what the program needs.

NOT.

His first show is bound to include a bare-back rocket ride to Pluto.

Then we can get on with the program and the chap who is already being groomed for it - Chris Lintott.

And it will be more of a team effort with regular articles and appearances by the rest of the chaps, including JC and DO'B.

And it will continue to be a success.

(there again, I thought the germans would annihilate the italians).

M

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Maybe ..... Brian Cox & Jonathon Ross !!

I'm not so sure about Brian Cox being the right man for the job. The guy is a physicist. He REALLY loves physics. Part of Patricks effectiveness has always been his ability to convey his enthusiasm of practical astronomy. He's not a trained scientist in any way and he speaks from the viewpoint of what he's always seen himself as... an excited amateur with his first telescope, thats how he communicates so well and why the program has been such a success.

Brian Cox is as good at conveying his enthusiasm of physics, its just he uses space and time to do so. He's landed in the astronomy TV bracket because of this, not because he's an astronomer.

As for Jonathan Ross, you really want the guy who on the first Stargazing Live said words to the effect of 'well I have a telescope but I've never used it because its too complicated to figure out how and I get bored' presenting Sky at Night?

Edited by Bubble and Squeak
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I hope JR was as much tongue in cheek a my Richard Hammond.

It wouldn't bother me if they took him (either of them) off tv altogether.

Brian Cox or Chris Lintott would both do an excellent presenters job.

I am not sure Brian would want to do anything but appear occasionally.

They both know loads, are enthusiastic and would be surrounded by as many experts and other enthusiastic amateurs as needed.

They just need to keep the clueless "star" away from the job.

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I think I would prefer that they stay away from "profesional" presenters...and as Murgen says..the last thing we need is some cluless "celebrity"....I still shudder when remembering Jonathan Ross on the Star Gazing Live program last year..... utterly awfull!

Maybe they could have "guest" presenters, as they do on HIGNFY...be they either profesional astronomers or amatures...

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