Brian Cox’s Human Universe: Research Log

To contextualize Human Universe, we need to look beyond the media product and look for wider avenues of research. The following is a list of what can be considered linked to the show;

  • Sci-Fi
  • History
  • Creationism
  • Academia
  • Space Exploration
  • Non-Mainstream
  • Genetics
  • Traditions
  • Visuals, Photography and Cinematography
  • Technology
  • Evolution
  • Education & Learning
  • geography
  • Similar Programmes
  • Anthropology
  • Science
  • ‘Nerd Culture’
  • Religion
  • BBC

Tasked with undertaking a DOREEN audience profile for ‘Brian Cox’s Human Universe’, a selection of quantitive research can be sourced from various outlets; particularly from the internet. The following outlines these platforms which information can be gathered to give a more informed description of DOREEN.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 14.15.56Twitter can be used to see how many followers Brian Cox has, locations and other interests. For example, 37 of my followers follow his official Twitter page. What is important to note though is that even though social media is a valuable resources, it does have its drawbacks in terms of not being totally accurate relating to the demographic who use them. In general, it is younger people who use these types of sites and therefore this must be taken into consideration. By carrying out primary audience research we can compensate for this and give a fuller perspective on DOREEN’s characteristics.

We can also see who uses the hashtag ‘#HumanUniverse’ such as ‘All About Science’ (‘spaceanswers)

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 14.28.18

Facebook has a wealth of statistical data that can be used as a focus group to build our image of DOREEN. We can also try to find links between those who like Brian Cox and other assumptions we can build to be true, i.e other interests.

Investigating on an individual level, we can analysis those who ‘like’ Brian Cox and inspect traits and patterns which may exist between viewers. Findings included people liking shows similar to the one in question and its genre such as Michael Palin and The World’s War. Also, most of the people looked into had been at university and working; one male working at Chester Zoo, another as a Capacity Analyst. Shows such as Mock The Week seemed to become a trend, and by looking at its Facebook Graph statistcs, could be linked in with the Human Audience and influence Doreen’s demographic. Out of 22 known persons on my personal Facebook account, 15 were male and the average age group was set between 18-24 years.

Here are a few examples of profiles accessed;

Female (Age: 24) Studied Fine Art at Derby University and likes M*A*S*H, House and Mock The Week.

Male (Age: 24) Studied at Liverpool John Moores University, currently working at Chester Zoo and likes reading Lord Of The Rings, A Song Of Fire And Ice saga and watches Doctor Who, Star Trek and Mock The Week.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 14.30.53

We can see how many likes Brian Cox gets as well as who likes him which all can be used to narrow down areas of who the intended audience are.

Looking at the channel itself, and who had been accessing the site, the analytical website ‘‘ takes lots of different information and shows them in statistical form.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 14.39.00

We can also link similar programmes which those watching Human Universe may watch as well and see if there are any trends. One of these is Africa. From this we can link wider categories of groups together to greater support the final theory of DOREEN.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 15.31.47


The ‘Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board’ shows audience viewing figures from individual programmes, as well as channels. Unfortuanetly, Human Universe is not yet listed on the site, but information such as BBC One’s proportion of viewers will prove useful.



Human Universe’s content is heavily educational and lends itself to the theme of ‘Academia’. One avenue for investigation could be contacting a University, and in particular The University Of Manchester due to the fact Brian Cox lectures there. From this, we can gather information on a core demographic and try to prove one notion of Brian Cox, and the show, appealing to students.

‘The Brian Cox Effect’


By looking at Brian Cox’s other programmes, such as Wonders Of The Universe on IMDB, we can try to draw parallels with Human Universe to strenghten our decision in who DOREEN is. Useful areas to look into is the critics section where a demographic breakdown of which age groups scored the programme out of 10 is shown.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 14.28.01The Guardian’s website featuring an article on Brian Cox’s Human Universe, and by looking at the comments by users and look at the profiles of users who give positive feedback and look deeper into their profile, adding to DOREEN’S persona.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 14.45.25

The final source is from the channel itself, BBC2. From simple things like what day is it on, the time its scheduled to be shown at and what is either side of the programme all give us information on a general range of criteria that will all help shape DOREEN’s profile. From BARB, we could see that as of October 4th 2014 the channel had 5.5% of the channel viewing share.


In collaboration with this, the Ofcom ‘Channel demographic’ page has quantitive data from 2012 looking at the age and gender profiles of the top 30 channels, including BBC2, from the chart we can see that BBC2 viewers are more likely to be over 35 and male.


Institute Of Physics Report on Physics Students In UK (March 2012)

Higher Education Statistics Authority Data on gender ratios (2011-2012)

Higher Education Statistics Authority Data on gender ratios (2011-2012)

The previous two sources taken from the Institute Of Physics Report and also the Higher Education Statistics Authority’s data taken from The Guardians website look at the correlation not only with students, but the topics which Brian Cox covers in his programme. From subjects such as Physics we can see the ratio of males and females who study these subject and by doing this, see the gender that is interested more in this areas.


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