BBC Four to enter Porton Down military laboratories

BBC Four

BBC Four is to go inside the laboratories at one of Britain’s most secretive military and scientific research bases to examine its controversial history and to reveal the most hazardous work being done by scientists to respond to the threat of chemical and biological weapons.

“Inside Porton Down will take viewers right in to one of the most significant research laboratories in the UK, with unprecedented access to explore some of the biggest biological and chemical threats to human life in the world today” –  Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor of BBC Four

Following on from the success of Inside Sellafield, where BBC Four took audiences into a nuclear reactor, Inside Porton Down goes behind the scenes and under the microscope to learn more about some of the most hazardous chemical and biological agents of our age. It was at Porton Down that the research scientists confirmed sarin as the nerve agent used on the Syrian population in 2013, triggering a worldwide response. Presenter Dr Michael Mosley considers the repercussions of its use.

One of the world’s first weapons of mass destruction – an anthrax bomb – also falls under Michael’s investigating eye as he explores the Scottish island of Gruinard, and simulates the secret vapourising experiments that took place decades ago. Only in recent years has Gruinard been declared as safe. Michael also examines the truth behind one of the most controversial events in MOD research history – the death of a young airman called Ronald Maddison in the 1950s.

Michael is given access to watch the distillation of one of the most dangerous chemical agents today, VX, which is made at Porton Down to test British military protective equipment. Inside Porton Down will also take viewers inside some of the site’s most secure biological research labs, where scientists have been tasked to find out how ebola – potentially one of the biggest public threats facing us today – has the power to spread.

“Following on from the success of Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield in our BBC Four Goes Nuclear season last year, BBC Four continues to invite audiences to consider the crucial influence that scientific developments can have on our everyday lives. Telling the story behind such groundbreaking and terrifying work is vital.” – Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor of BBC Four