Daniel Wainwright: It's reality TV but will it be a waste of space

To most people, 17,500 miles per hour is pretty quick. That’s the rate the International Space Station goes at while in orbit and I’m sure it’s awe-inspiring and humbling for those aboard to see their home planet from a God-like position where only a select few have ever gone before.

But to me, it was all looking like a bit of a turn off.

I initially had absolutely no interest in Channel 4’s Live From Space season. It seemed like it’d be one for the kids who paid attention in physics rather than doodling images of the starship Enterprise on their exercise books.

Daniel Wainwright

It’s embarrassing to admit this, given that I am an unashamed geek.

I love space. Or rather, I love sci-fi, with the emphasis on the ‘fi’.

Reality is dull. Space is one long, interminable vacuum where it’ll take years to get to Mars, if we even bother to go.

I’ve been spoiled by a diet of warp drive and de-materialising phone boxes driven by the harnessed power of a supernova, an eye of harmony, secured by isomorphic locks and symbiotic nuclei.

Ordinary shuttles and rockets powered by fuel that take days or weeks to launch just cannot cut it when compared to a Millennium Falcon flown by a maverick cargo pilot and his hairy pal.

The prospect of watching a two-hour broadcast from the ISS as it went around the planet should have filled me with giddy delight.

But in two hours, you can watch the entire third season finale/fourth season opener of Star Trek: The Next Generation. That’s the one where Captain Picard gets assimilated by the Borg.

It’s epic. And there’s even time left over to cram in an episode of classic Doctor Who.

This, of course, says more about my own woeful attention span than it does the makers of Live From Space.

Presenter Dermot O’Leary, who is to be congratulated for swapping X Factor for something that actually enriches people’s lives and understanding, says that space has always held a fascination for the Star Wars and Star Trek generation.

And he’s right. This is pure, real life.

Now I think about it, this could well be the best thing that’s ever been put on TV, if only I can pay attention long enough.

There are dangers that these brave astronauts face every single day, whether going out on a space walk or sitting atop hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel that someone has just set on fire.

If they are not wearing the right clothes, they will die.

If they so much as open the door, they will die.

This is a far more exciting story than a man with plastic ears, in a blue viscose jumper, raising his eyebrows and telling people they’re not being logical. And it has threats and dangers greater than a bunch of up-turned wheelie bins covered in toilet ball cocks and sink plungers.

The rest of the TV viewing world has hopefully grown up to now properly appreciate the majesty and brilliance of the universe beyond our planet. Gravity has just cleaned up at the Oscars, Professor Brian Cox has an army of female admirers for talking about actual stars, rather than the ones you find in Heat magazine.

This is the ultimate in reality TV – no vajazzles, no Jim Davidson and absolutely no moronic ‘judges’ laughing in the faces of deluded morons who thought they could sing.

It is pure, unadulterated, fascinating fact.

At least I really hope so, because I don’t just want to be all ‘fi’ and no ‘sci’.

If Live From Space fails to re-ignite my interest in the universe then Houston, I’ll have a problem.

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