And the nerd gets the beautiful girl

4th July 2008 at 01:00
It has, on the face of it, been a bad couple of months for comedy scientists
It has, on the face of it, been a bad couple of months for comedy scientists. Radio 4 recently broadcast a six-part sitcom called Double Science. Two hopeless science teachers who can't get on with women are shaken up when - gosh! - their new head of department turns out to be female.

Everyone in the show comes straight out of Stereotype City. Pretentious drama teachers, kids who are the smartest people in the school and Indian waiters with comedy accents all force me to ask myself: "Did radio comedy die with Humphrey Lyttelton?"

By rights, I should hate The Big Bang Theory on Channel 4, and indeed when I flicked over to it one night in a Perthshire hotel room, it was only, as I saw it, to get to know my enemy. Two bright physicists who can't get on with women are shaken up when a beautiful girl moves into the flat across the hall. Here we go again.

I perched on the end of my bed and prepared to be assaulted by cliches. First time round, I caught little more than the end credits. I suspended full judgment, mindful of the time that I dismissed Father Ted as a comedy, based solely on the repulsive behaviour of an old priest who swore and drank a lot. It was only when I stumbled upon the brilliant scene where eight clerics are trapped in a store's lingerie department that I realised what a gem of a programme it was. ("It's all right, but don't treat it like a documentary," says my pillar-of-the-church father-in-law.)

After a couple more forays into The Big Bang Theory, I began to rather like it. I felt of one character, Leonard, that, had he been real, we might have been friends. The obsessions with computer gaming and science fiction memorabilia would have grated a bit, but I'm sure my spell of being interested in CB radio tested my own friends' patience. Severely.

Yes, Leonard is a nerd, but he shows that nerds can be kind, thoughtful and supportive. When the beautiful neighbour agreed to go on a date with him, the audience cheered. Rather than throwing up, my reaction was more along the lines of "gaun yersel, Leonard!"

One up for a fictional physicist, but please don't treat the show as a documentary.

Gregor Steele probably looked a bit like one of the cast of The Big Bang Theory before he lost his hair.

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