You might already know this but Brainiac Science Abuse (known as Brainiacs) is a cult television show which was on TV in the noughties. Richard Hammond was the first presenter and, if you were a Big Brother fan back in the bad old good old days, you might remember evictee Jon Tickle, who was the only presenter who featured consistently in all series. Brainiac Live! is the live incarnation which has just finished a week of danger, explosions and science facts at the Udderbelly tent on the South Bank.
As we sat in the audience waiting to see it on Bank Holiday Monday, the kids were getting more and more nervous. There were verbal warnings and signs up everywhere stating that you had to really put your fingers in your ears when the Brainiacs told you to. The show started in a confusion of alarm bells and voiceovers implying that the live show couldn’t be as good as the tv show. ‘No, it’s better!’ they shouted and the Brainiacs bounded on stage in their lab coats and their blokey, jokey personalities (the only female Brainiac was oddly mute).
The show consisted of a series of silly/daredevil stunts which served to demonstrate a scientific fact. Between the stunts, while the sometimes elaborate scenes were being changed, the big screen was used to show funny clips which also demonstrated scientific facts. I especially enjoyed the sketch about Misheard song lyrics (but can’t remember any science behind it whatsoever). The format worked really well and kept everybody entertained for the full hour of the show. The Brainiacs took on different personae, cheeky, geeky, silly, which helped with the comedy factor. All good, clean fun.
We witnessed the experiment called ‘Things you can run through’, and we watched an electric fence do its stuff (even on a Brainiac’s bum – which was nicely acted, as we couldn’t tell until checking Twitter later on if this was a real mistake). We learnt about liquid nitrogen and fearfully watched as a Brainiac finger almost got chopped off with a hammer, and then we saw that jet propulsion was the best way to spin a chair round quickly – very quickly. The show was rounded off with an airzooka competition, in other words blowing massive smoke rings into the audience with a healthy bit of audience participation.
The Brainiac Live! show is great for anyone who likes a bit of flame, a lot of noise, and some fun scientific facts thrown in. I went in to the tent a bit cynical that it wouldn’t really appeal to me, but if the kids are glued to a show and call it cool and even take away some science with them, then that’s all good with me. I would take their advice though, and make sure you do put your fingers in your ears. Some of those bangs are loud.
Disclaimer: We were given free tickets to see Brainiac Live! Science Abuse for the purpose of this review. All opinions and photos are my own.
Brainiac Live! Science Abuse tours around the UK so watch out for it if you are off to Butlins this year!
There’s lots more to see at Udderbelly. It runs until 17th July on South Bank.