"Monkeys, Rats, and Me" on the BBC


Once again, I find myself wishing I lived in Britain, if only so I could watch BBC2 -- NDNL alerts us to a fascinating new documentary made for the channel:

Central to the programme was the new biomedical research lab at Oxford University and the protesters who oppose it"¦ and those who are in favour. Enter Laurie Pycroft, a sixteen year old geek who started Pro-Test, an action group campaigning in favour of animal testing. And boy, is he quite the character. Whereas the protesters, grouped in SPEAK, were led by a jittery figure who couldn't help get arrested at every rally, Pro-Test is entirely carried by winsome teen genius Pycroft. The boy is a school dropout, he is educating himself and is a member of the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth. On the Pro-Test website he describes himself as a polymath. ... I have to admit, I rather wanted to take the side of the wizz kid and his erudite gang of brainiacs, instead of the agitated bunch of raggle-taggle protesters. Pro-Test has a point "“ a reasonable point. But seeing the miserable lives of the lab rats and the monkeys had me doubting again. Then it was over to doctor Tipu Aziz and Sean Gardiner, a boy with Parkinson's who had hugely benefited from recent brain surgery that was directly based on animal research "“ and I swung the other way. Again.

No matter which side you're on, you've got to admit it sounds like a good program. For those many of us who don't get BBC2, there's an article by the filmmaker here.