BBC Factual Slates New Science Content


BBC Factual has commissioned a range of science programming for BBC Two and iPlayer, including Disease X, a documentary film that hunts for the source of the next pandemic.

The hour-long title, made by STV Studios Factual (Unvaccinated) and co-produced by The Open University with support from Screen Scotland, will follow Dr. Chris van Tulleken as he meets the pioneering teams that have continued their work on the science of disease preparedness and prevention since Covid-19.

Van Tulleken said: “Covid-19 brought the tragic consequences of deadly pandemics to the forefront of public consciousness. Chillingly, the scientific consensus suggests another pandemic will happen in our lifetime, and it could be even worse than what has gone before. This investigation into the source of the next pandemic is, therefore, imperative, and will provide a critical insight into one of the greatest threats facing humanity today.”

Craig Hunter, executive producer and creative director of factual at STV Studios, said: “This urgent factual thriller combines the professional and personal experience of Dr. Chris—one of the U.K.’s most trusted scientific voices—with the latest frontline research to help us understand the scale of the Disease X threat and sound the alarm before it’s too late. This is, without doubt, one of the most critical science stories of our time.”

David Smith, director of Screen Scotland, said: “It’s great to see the BBC commission ambitious and timely documentaries of this scale from STV Studios. Screen Scotland’s Broadcast Content Fund helps Scotland-based production companies like STV Studios to win and deliver new projects, driving economic growth and jobs for the Scottish production sector through their creativity. This is another vote of confidence in Scottish production talent from BBC Factual.”

Another title on the upcoming slate is the 5×60-minute Evolution, a BBC Studios Science Unit production with NOVA and GBH for PBS and the BBC, co-produced by The Open University.

More content includes a third season of The Secret Genius of Modern Life, made by the BBC Studios Science Unit and co-produced by The Open University, and the two-part Horizon: Secrets of the Brain, made by Furnace TV and co-produced by The Open University.

Tom Coveney, head of commissioning for science, said: “In a world where we’re bombarded with non-stop news and social media awash with misinformation, good science programs aren’t just important, they’re a joyful inspiration. I’m continually amazed and delighted by the work of British scientists and their international colleagues in these programs: whether working tirelessly to prevent the next pandemic, engineering extraordinary tech to transform our lives, studying the inner workings of our minds or exploring the origins and endless variety of life on Earth, there’s something for everyone. It’s thrilling to bring our viewers such a range of stories and specialisms, especially with this stellar lineup of British presenters—some of the best science communicators on the planet.”