Yes he’s back! The University of Manchester’s chart topping physicist Professor Brian Cox has returned, showcasing 350 years of British Science in ‘Science Britannica: Frankenstein’s Monsters’ . Moving away from the gritty details of physics, Cox plunges into Britain’s most controversial research and how it has created bad image for modern day science.

Cox uses the term “Frankenstein” to highlight shocking moments throughout scientific history. Beginning by explaining the gory details of the public hanging of George Forster in 1803, he brings to life how Giovanni Aldini used Forster’s body as one of the first “Frankenstein” moments in research. Cox elaborates on research carried out by Humphrey Davy, who himself sounds very similar to Cox as a 19th century advocate of popular science.

The programme turns darker as further “Frankenstein’s” are presented to us, including the Atom bomb which devastated Hiroshima in 1945. Cox exposes the secrets of its production, using his classic smiley face personality to question past collaborators in his own field. Rightly, Cox identifies this point in history as that which brought a “change in attitude towards science”.

The final half an hour of Science Britannica was worth the wait with barbaric surgery and animal testing being the hot topic. The 18th century “mad man” John Hunter, a grave digging surgical pioneer, held Cox’s spotlight. “What would you want to do that for?” he asks while peering at a decapitated chicken head.

The most intriguing part of the programme was the final interview with Dr Aziz, a self-assured animal tester at the forefront of ground breaking Alzheimer’s research. Cox presses him on his modern day “Frankenstein” research; the argument that over 100,000 patients have benefited from it, weighed against fewer than 100 primate test-subjects, is a powerful one. Yet Cox continually recognises that public criticism has an important part to play in questioning scientific research; whatever the outcome of the debate, it is one always worth having.

Things can only get better from Science Britannica as Cox beautifully diverges from his norms to present us with a different side to science, a must watch even for those who haven’t done science since GCSE.