Generation Genome

Gary Hughes
Filming in Biosciences lab

The University is pleased to announce that filming has started on Generation Genome, a six-part TV documentary series designed for school-age students.

Based on work at the School of Biosciences, the series will feature Professor Darren Griffin and recent graduate Ogo Anokwuru as presenters.

The project is a joint venture between the University and KMTV, the local TV channel covering Kent and Medway.

Each 24-minute programme in the series will focus on a particular strand of genetics of topical interest and linked to the school curriculum for 13- to 18-year olds. There will be a dynamic mix of real-life demonstrations, 3D animations and computer simulations together with human and animal case studies in a variety of locations including laboratories, farms and food production outlets, zoos, museums, hospitals, schools and classrooms. Students from across the University will also contribute and gain important skills and work experience in the making of this series.

A debate hosted by partner schools will enable an audience of young people to challenge a panel of experts on the science and issues explored across the series. This will include topics such as:

  • Genome function, evolution, development and disease
  • Genetics in the media – fact or fake and how to tell the difference
  • The ethics of resurrecting people and species
  • Genetic variation (populations and ethnic groups)
  • Designer babies
  • Genetics in food production
  • The ‘gay gene’ and the ‘criminal gene’
  • Mental health and genetics
  • Academic achievement and genetics

Supported by the BFI’s Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF), this series aims to engage young people, particularly those from economically deprived and culturally diverse backgrounds, with cutting edge science, placing them at the centre of a debate about genetics and the impact it will have on their future. KMTV, a unique partnership between the KM Media Group and the University of Kent, was one of five networks to be awarded funding by the BFI in its latest round of projects for young audiences. It is the first time that an Ofcom regulated local TV station has achieved this kind of national recognition, as it is free-to-access and the local network provides significant UK audience reach.

Professor Richard Reece, Kent’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Education and Student Experience, said: ‘This is a real triumph for the University. We are making use of our world-class facilities and expertise to make cutting edge science accessible for the next generation of students. The project underlines our commitment to widening participation and strengthening the nations STEM capacities.’

Andy Richards, KMTV’s Editor-In-Chief, said: ‘After many months of proposals and preproduction, we are absolutely delighted to have started filming on this project.

‘Of course, none of this would be possible without the Young Audiences Content Fund. I would like to thank them for their financial support and confidence in our project. I would also like to thank the University for its financial support and encouragement from the beginning. This is the most exciting project we have worked on to date.’

Funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the YACF supports the creation of distinctive, high-quality content for audiences up to the age of 18. It awards up to 50% of the production budget for projects which have secured a broadcast commitment from a free-to-access, Ofcom regulated service with significant UK-wide audience reach.

Filming on Generation Genome will finish in January 2022, with transmission expected later in the year. The premiere of each episode will take place at the Gulbenkian theatre on the University’s Canterbury campus. Once complete it will be made available to schools across the country.

Ogo Anokwuru interviewing Prof Darren Griffin