For the fourth time in a row, here are my annual awards. I've made a few changes with the categories compared to last year.
Best newly discovered radio show
I caught Covid, despite being fairly careful, and one thing I discovered during my 10 days isolation was this Radio 4 programme: Add to Playlist. Cerys Matthews and Jeffrey Boakye put together a playlist of 5 pieces of music each show, with a snippets of a few others too. Each one is related in some way to the one before - maybe in theme, or mood, or some other way. (The playlist hasn't got as long as The Chain on BBC 6Music (8361 tracks and counting), it might take a while to do that.) The range of is music is pretty wide - from medieval to present day. So you need to be open to listening to new things, but if you are, then you'll probably be intrigued by what they choose.
Best new Superman related TV series
Heroes spoiled pretty much all superhero films or TV series, but there are a couple of characters from my childhood that I still enjoy - Superman and Batman. Superman and Lois is a TV series showing on the BBC set when they get married and have two teenage boys. I'm taking each episode at a time, expecting it to get tedious, like Supergirl or Batgirl did, but I'm 3 or 4 in and so far I'm enjoying it. I get really bored when the superhero has to have a fist fight with their enemy, with whom they are always closely matched. There are a few scenes like that, but plenty of other stuff going on to keep me interested. One of their children has some powers, and they've only just told their boys that their Dad is Superman, so there are lots of interesting plot lines going on around that.
Best First Contact film
Don't we get more than that?
I'm a sucker for films where Aliens make contact with us. Close Encounters is one of my top 10, and so I love anything like that. This 1997 film is adapted from the book by Carl Sagan, who, as I can best work out, is the US, last century equivalent of Brian Cox. As such the science is pretty solid, which means it doesn't annoy me. Jodie Foster is brilliant as ever as the scientist who notices when the aliens first get in touch. Sometimes old films show their age a little too much, but this one doesn't.
Although this has been around for over a year, it seems to have got dusted off for this Christmas. Many ads get very tedious on repeated viewings, but I love the playful dance on this advert, as well as the music.
Best popular science book
Although I haven't finished it, I'm really enjoying Rutherford and Fry's A complete guide to absolutely everything (abridged edition). I'm a regular listener to their podcast (though I'm nearly 2 years behind). It picks a number of different topics, like "Is anything completely round" and holds them up and examines them. I'd love to sit down with the authors and ask them further questions (and have a bit of a moan about how much space they devoted to bad science). I've just finished the chapter on Time and found it a bit long.