Monday, 20 February 2012


Between Friday night and Saturday Morning I flew back to the UK from India. It was a flight taking place entirely at night-time, and after a quick G&T and meal, I thought I should try to get some sleep. I thought I'd flick through the entertainment system first to see what films there were, though I was certainly not intending to watch any of them. So, I flicked through. There were some films I thought might be worth watching, if only I wasn't planning to sleep. Then I looked at the TV programs section. There were a few categories. I looked at comedy, then drama. There was a "factual" section, too. I looked there, idly wondering if there was something by my colleague Jim Al-Khalili for plane-goers to enjoy. There wasn't, but there was an episode of a program called William Shatner's Weird or What. I'd never seen an episode, but I did know that I was in one.

The show consists of a series of basically pseudoscientific or paranormal things being described by William Shatner, followed by scientists explaining why the paranormal thing actually has a normal explanation.  It's a somewhat painful show to watch, but at least it gives the scientific explanation the last word. Anyway, I got a call a while back from the producers to ask if I'd consider being the scientist in an episode to talk about the possibility of travelling to parallel universes. I chatted to them a bit, and they though what I had to say was relevant for the show (in which South American crystal skulls were purported to be the portals to other dimensions). The filming was a bit of a palaver. They kept messing me around with the times, and eventually I agreed to turn up at the studio at 5pm one day, only to find that they'd decided to film on the roof of the building but wanted to wait until around 8pm to start to get the lighting effect they wanted. They never mentioned the roof to me, and it was freezing. Oh, and they never paid my expenses (and there was no fee). So I'd definitely advise not appearing on the show for those reasons... but it was kind of fun. It turned out, too, that the one episode of the show that was available on the plane was the exact one I appeared in.

So, I watched it. I fast-forwarded through a lot of it, and when it got to my bit I hesitated. On those rare occasions when I appear on TV or the radio, I really don't like watching or listening to it. I realise that I'm not alone here, but I don't make a habit of watching my efforts afterwards, on the whole. But actually, it wasn't too bad. The editors did a good job. If only the director had pointed out that my shirt collar looked a mess...

Anyway. If you really want to, and you're flying a long-enough-haul BA flight soon, you could always check it out.

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