Broadcaster: BBC Four
Review by Will Channell
Michael Mosley’s latest documentary covers blood and the roles of the human circulation system. By performing six different experiments on samples of his own blood he is able to show the wide variety of biological functions fulfilled by the blood and demonstrate their medical relevance.
This programme is great for a basic description of physiology and immunology; discussing ideas from oxygen uptake to the immune response. As he often does, Michael Mosley uses his own body to perform these experiments, making black pudding out of his own blood and calculating the volume of oxygen carried by his blood during exercise (his vO2). The latter is shown in this clip and would be of particular use to first year undergraduates studying a physiology module; it might also be used within physiology practical classes to introduce experiments.
The strengths of this programme relate strongly to the presenter. The reason Michael Mosley has become the BBC’s ‘go-to’ man for medical documentaries is because he is able to explain complex ideas in a very simple manner. A qualified doctor himself, he presents the show in an engaging manner, guiding the viewer slowly through things, with clever and interesting examples. For instance in this show he uses white water kayaking as a way to demonstrate a haematological response to shock; this enables the viewer to gain information without getting tied down in lengthy descriptions or difficult diagrams.
In contrast the weakness of The Wonderful World of Blood is the fact that, although easy to watch, it is only an hour long, and therefore does not delve to deeply into the study of human blood. Consequently it is difficult to see this show being used for anything more complex than an introduction to blood physiology.
Overall though this programme offers a fascinating look into the human circulatory system that could be watched by anyone with an interest in the area. However anyone looking to study blood in more detail will need an additional resource.