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04 March 2021

Leading Nations factual producer Tern Television, part of Zinc Media Group, has been commissioned by BBC Two to make a documentary exploring the secret science of sewage. Commissioned for the BBC’s flagship Horizon strand and produced in partnership with The Open University, this follow-up to the highly-acclaimed RTS-winning and Grierson-nominated The Secret Life of Landfill: A Rubbish History, sees Dr George McGavin, Dr Zoe Laughlin and a team of world-leading scientists wade in to reveal The Secret Science of Sewage.

Harry Bell, Managing Director, Tern Television, says: In The Secret Science of Sewage we set up a pop-up science lab on top of one of Europe’s leading sewage works, Minworth near Birmingham, and our team of scientists dig deep into this amazing renewable energy source. In the film we discover brand new biological life forms in Minworth’s vats that can potentially be used in phage therapy for treating bacterial infections. George also investigates a new type of pee-power building brick that if super-sized could see toilets powering our future homes. And, in the bio-methane plant they reveal that a staggering 28,000 homes a year are supplied with gas for heating and cooking. Poo is life-enhancing. It’s the world’s new superpower.

“Landfill really made a mark, selling from Thailand to Poland and Africa to Canada, as well as being used in secondary schools across the UK for Geography A Level syllabus and Open University modules. We hope that The Secret Science of Sewage will make just as much impact.”

The Secret Science of Sewage (1 x 60 min) will explore the biology, chemistry, natural history and social history of faeces from a TV-base camp like no other: within the pools, tanks and bowels of one of the UK’s largest and most technologically-advanced sewage works. For too long, this has been the subject no-one wants to contemplate. However, a growing population, ageing infrastructure, global water shortages and increasing environmental concerns mean the subject can no longer be ignored.

In The Secret Science of Sewage, Dr George McGavin, Dr Zoe Laughlin and a team of world leading- scientists will reveal the secret science of this remarkable resource, explore its hidden value and consider how this great energy resource may be better utilised for the future. This commission, produced in partnership with The Open University, builds on Tern’s growing relationship with the BBC, particularly its 35 hours of both original and returning shows announced towards the end of last year.

The Secret Science of Sewage was ordered by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History, and Patrick Holland, Channel Controller of BBC Two, and was commissioned by Tom Coveney, Science Commissioning Editor at the BBC. It is Exec Produced by Harry Bell for Tern Television at Zinc Media and distributed internationally by DCD Rights.