Prof’s best-seller a TV ratings winner

Presenter Iain Stewart

Presenter Iain Stewart

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A BEST seller by a Sheffield University professor has provided the inspiration for a major new BBC TV series, How To Grow A Planet.

It is based on The Emerald Planet, written by botany professor David Beerling who was the series consultant, offering comments, developing stories and suggesting ideas.

How To Grow A Planet, presented by Professor Iain Stewart and airing on BBC2 on Tuesday evenings, explains how plants turned the earth from a barren, hostile rock surrounded by toxic gases, into the planet we call home.

It features a number of hair-raising experiments, including extracting pre-historic oxygen from a lump of iron and plants not just breathing but actually talking to each other.

Professor Beerling said: “The BBC were keen to make a high profile botany series but unsure what common theme might unite different episodes, beyond plants, and what to base the whole thing around.

“Through extensive discussions and meetings with producers and researchers, who had all read

“The Emerald Planet from cover to cover, it became clear that the role of plants in earth history would be a refreshing new approach to linking botany and geology.

“My role was really to offer comments on the script, story development, suggest ideas, and trap any obvious howlers.

“The argument we are making is a refreshing take on our understanding of how our planet evolved.

“We are showcasing how plants sculpted the planet and why plant life should be regarded as a geological force of nature.

“This is the central argument of my book The Emerald Plant and the BBC2 television series. I hope it is an eye-opener for the audience and readers.”

The series is in three parts and concludes on February 21.