Cracking The Code – tape 1573

First on this tape, an episode of Cracking The Code presented by David Suzuki, titled The Mouse That Laid The Golden Egg.

Here he is holding a handful of DNA.

David Suzuki

It’s all a bit alarmist. At the first mention of genetic engineering, the soundtrack starts playing discordant music, as if Doctor Phibes were playing the score.

This is an introductory episode, which tries to explain how genetic engineering works, and what it might mean, like the ability to produce new drugs.

There’s some film of potentially transgenic goats being born, in the hope that they will be able to produce expensive drugs. This sequence lasts about five minutes, and has the most anti-climactic ending:

“Two days later, these kids were tested to see if they contained human DNA. They didn’t. They are, afterall, just ordinary goats.”

Well gee whiz, David, why did we have to sit through the whole birth then? This isn’t Springwatch, you know.

Not a transgenic goat

The reason for the engineering is that they can engineer animals like sheep and goats so that their mammary glands produce milk which contains custom proteins, which are often extremely useful drug ingredients.

But some people don’t like it. Here’s Michael Fox of the Humane Society, who thinks that “It’s altering the created order. We shouldn’t mess with Mother Nature.”

Michael Fox

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th September 1993 – 21:30

The second episode is called The DNA Connection. It looks at the way all life on Earth is linked by our shared DNA, and looks at where that life might have started.

It also looks at the ideas behind Jurassic Park, and includes a very early teaser trailer for it, which I haven’t seen for a long time.

They talk to Craig Venter about the Human Genome Project. He seems to have become a genetic hybrid between man and dog.

Craig Venter

The other hero of the Human Genome Project on the UK side was John Sulston.

John Sulston

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th September 1993 – 21:30

The next episode is Birth, Sex and Death. It looks at human development, and there’s an interesting section looking at the strange phenomenon of women with XY chromosomes, and men with XX chromosomes, which came to the conclusion that the male and female body forms are controlled by a much smaller gene sequence than previously imagined.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 21st September 1993 – 21:30

In Accidents of Creation, Suzuki discusses Darwin, mutations, and how they shape evolution.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th September 1993 – 21:30

After this, a trailer for The Music of Terezin and Terezin Concert.

Then, 10×10 with a short film called LidoBBC Two – 28th September 1993 – 22:20

After this there’s a trailer for Hollywood UK and Performance.

Then Sarah Dunant does a trail for The Late Show.

Then, there’s a Party Political Broadcast for the Conservatives, and it’s rather fascinating. Rather than trot out politicians to bash the opposition, they decided to do an episode of Gogglebox. And it’s clearly an attack ad aimed squarely at the new leader of the Labour Party, John Smith, intending to paint him as a typical tax and spend socialist, trying to lay the blame for the winter of discontent at his feet (which was almost 15 years previously, remember). They even have a pop at the BBC when the woman in the piece says she knows what’s happening because she doesn’t watch TV news. Quite remarkable.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th September 1993 – 22:30

Then, Newsnight, at the Labour Party conference where the target of that PPB is making his first big speech as new leader of the party. There’s about half an hour of this before the tape ends.


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