Ian Wolf

Gigglebox Weekly #46 – Dara O’Briain: School of Hard Sums

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Gigglebox Weekly With Ian Wolf

This week there was a new show on Dave which featured a very odd mix: comedy and mathematics.

The premise of School of Hard Sums is comedian Dara O’Briain trying to prove that you can solve any situation using mathematics, the subject he studied at University College, Dublin. He competes alongside another comedian, this week David O’Doherty, who tries to use anything else to beat him. All the questions are set by Marcus du Sautoy, a professor of mathematics at Oxford who amongst other things has appeared on Radio 4’s The Museum of Curiosity, has done two maths-themed Horizon documentaries with Alan Davies, and has written a paper on the subject of the number 42.

This show is relatively simple to review. If you like maths, you’ll like this show. If you don’t like maths, you’ll hate it. If you want to learn about maths, you’ll probably be too busy concentrating on the problems in the show rather than any jokes that are being told.

I myself am rather fond of maths. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t be doing this job if Teesside University did maths degrees. I used to be something of a maths buff, so I found myself trying my hardest to solve the problems, and immediately becoming frustrated when the answer was revealed. I kept thinking to myself, “I knew that! I knew that! Well, I should have known it.”

School of Hard Sums is, therefore, of specialist interest. There’s not much in the way of laughs, but if you’re into the subject of maths you should find it enjoyable enough.