Entertainment

Michael Mosley gets the inside scoop in new docos

Journalist and TV presenter Michael Mosley.
Journalist and TV presenter Michael Mosley. Contributed

MICHAEL Mosley is known for being the guinea pig in his own experiments.

He has swallowed a camera and infected himself with tapeworms, leeches and even malaria for the sake of his documentaries.

But the psychiatrist-turned-medical journalist and TV presenter has an Australian to thank for his penchant for self experimentation.

In the first documentary series he fronted for the BBC, Medical Mavericks, Dr Mosley interviewed Australian physician Barry Marshall before he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

"He discovered stomach ulcers are caused not by stress, as everyone believed, but by a previously unknown organism and to demonstrate it he swallowed it himself and induced ulcers," Dr Mosley told The Guide during a recent visit to Australia as a guest speaker at the ASTRA Conference.

"When I went to film him I asked 'how many doctors believe you?' He said it's taken 10 years and only 10% of doctors (believe me).

"He had a mass of research, but even so there was huge resistance.

"When I made the documentary I got a review in the British Medical Journal describing it as one-sided and tangential. I was very pleased when Barry won the Nobel Peace Prize."

In his latest series of documentaries airing over the next three weeks on BBC Knowledge, Dr Mosley looks at three very different topics.

Firstly in Secret Science: Inside Porton Down, he was given exclusive access to Britain's top-secret military and scientific base that specialises in chemical and biological warfare.

"They still make these gases including VX gas, which is the most lethal nerve agent ever known to man, because they need to know how to battle it in wars or terrorist attacks," he said. "It is both scary as hell and fascinating as hell."

To demonstrate some of the effects of chemical weapons Dr Mosley agreed to being exposed to tear gas at the facility.

"My producer assured me I wouldn't be too bad; it was ghastly," he said. "I was crying my eyes out and trying not to vomit."

His other two documentaries explore the science behind organ transplants and the science of predicting who will become a murderer.

"I was training to become forensic psychiatrist (before getting into TV) so I was interested in killers," he said.

"I'm very intrigued why people do what they do and this doco is about that. It follows history from when people said you could tell a murderer from the shape of a person's ears or head through to brand new stuff like the warrior gene. If you have it, then it dramatically increases your chance of being a murderer."

His next goal is to further educate the masses about nutrition.

"I see that as my remit - to spread what I come across in the research field to a much wider audience, and to be sceptical."

Secret Science: Inside Porton Down airs tonight at 8.30pm on BBC Knowledge.

The Mystery of Murder airs September 29 at 8.30pm and Mend Me: A Guide to Transplants airs October 6 at 8.30pm, also on BBC Knowledge.

Topics:  bbc knowledge, medicine, michael mosley, science, television


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