Magnus Pyke (2009)

First of a new series of paintings of great British eccentrics. Eccentricity seems to go hand-in-hand with enthusiasm – a winning combination for televisual entertainment, particularly in the field of scientific communication. UK Television in the 1970s and 1980s was party to a number of these characters, the likes of which seldom make it to our screens any more.

Acrylic and spray paint on canvas 600mm x 600mm

Magnus Pyke was a hugely popular TV scientist from the 70s. He was in his 60s when he first appeared on the screen, all waving arms and gesticulations – the very picture of a ‘mad scientist’.

While researching him for this painting, I was struck by the dearth of images or video available online. There is a period of recent history which is woefully under-represented on the web. A period before digitisation, a period before even the adoption of the VCR which has simply never made the leap onto YouTube and it’s ilk. At his peak, Magnus Pyke was a more recognised scientist amongst the general population than Newton and Einstein – yet the only moving images I could find are from his appearance with Thomas Dolby in his hit She Blinded Me With Science which is embedded below.

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