Fighting the power of pink – my first Radio 4 documentary

I almost can’t believe this is actually happening, but my very first Radio 4 science documentary  – Fighting the Power of Pink – airs tonight at 8pm. And I’ve also got a piece up on the Guardian Science blog about it. Exciting!


(Apologies for the extra bonus news beforehand – programme starts 2mins in)

Here’s the blurb:

“Any parents of a little girl will tell you that they are strangely drawn to the colour pink. But is it in their genes or is it all down to culture? Kat Arney investigates, talking to parents, scientists, and the toy industry.

She discovers that while women are more drawn than men to reddish shades of blue, boys and girls don’t seem to develop different preferences until they are over the age of two. But long before then, they have very different preferences for toys.

So maybe we all just like different colours because we like the things that come in those colours. Or maybe women really do prefer pink because in the distant past they needed to be able to see red berries against green leaves, while men needed to see brown bison against a blue sky?”

It’s been great working with producer Jolyon Jenkins to make the show – he did all the hard work while I just turned up and blathered on about stuff. As an amusing aside, he asked me to present the programme after seeing me on a website touting me as a potential “female Brian Cox” (which is flattering, although I’m half the height and a lot less Northern).

Anyway, after a bit of a rollercoaster year where I’ve been asked to get involved in quite a few exciting high-profile science TV presenting-type things that have all fallen through, it’s really nice to have something actually come off.

14 responses to “Fighting the power of pink – my first Radio 4 documentary

  1. moira Carter

    I have thousands (literally) of friends, rels, work contacts who would love this prog. I just caught it by accident (and very relevant – my first grandchild, a girl, was born on Christmas Day 2010) How come they can’t ‘listen again’. Why do Radio 4 broadcast loads of good stuff only to the few people who happen to be free to listen at the time ??? Just one repeat should be standard. Stuff the Archers !

    • Hi Moira, I think you should be able to listen again on iPlayer. I’ll sort the link out tomorrow,

  2. Kevin Stevenson

    Kat I am a Head of Social Science in a secondary school and have just delivered a revision session on gender using your radio programme. I had not listened to to it prior to the lesson so was not sure how it would go. It was perfect! It covered many of the perspectives we teach including cognitive, behaviourist, social learning, evolutionary and biological perspectives. The guests were great and the my student’s really understood the issues much better after your programme. It was especially engaging due to the addition of humour, my favourite being monkeys don’t cook or drive cars. I would be very keen to have this as a podcast as I would very much like to use it in future years.

    • Hi Kevin,
      Thanks so much for using the show!I don’t know if I’m able to give out the mp3 for copyright reasons, but I’ll see if I can do something.
      Best wishes, and glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Hi – like kevin, I would love to be able to save this programme to use with my classes in the future – I teach sociology and it covers lots of relevant stuff. Have you found out about copyright and is there any way I can get a copy of it after it expires in 5 days from the i-player?
    many thanks

  4. Pingback: On wardrobe malfunctions, in which I unwittingly flash an unsuspecting Cheltenham Science Festival | You do too much

  5. Loved it, i suppose it wasn’t aimed at me but I was facinated. But the “Barbie Girl” song is embarassingly loud :P.
    Hope you do more of these.

  6. I finally listened to FTPOP this morning n my PVR & enjoyed it thoroughly. The discussion of colour vision reminded me of an article I read in New Scientist a couple of years ago. As you know, the colour vision genes are on the X chromosome, so you have two sets while I have only one. Now, it seems some women have two sets of red receptors in their retinas, tuned to different wavelengths, and this makes them much more able to distinguish colours at the red end of the spectrum. (Although I doubt very much whether it makes them more pink-aware!) The NS article is only available on-line to subscribers, but there’s a piece here — — that’s informative, if a bit technical.
    There was an Horizon prog. on BBC recently,, looking at colour perception. One of the featured experts talked about how RGB vision in primates evolved from blue-yellow vision, and how that affects the emotional associations of different colours.
    We say ‘pink’ even though we say ‘light blue’ or ‘light green’ because it’s the colour of the flower — like ‘rose’ in French; and ‘orange’, I suppose. I wonder: if it didn’t have its own unique name, would we give pink so much attention? Maybe there’s another documentary in there somewhere!

    • Interesting idea. In some of the papers I read, there was a suggestion that men and women perceive colour differently, but no-one’s really got it figured out. Personally, I find it most damning that pink was never considered to be a girly colour until the 20th century – Winston Churchill’s favourite colour was allegedly pink, and it was believed to be a “strong” colour, as it’s a dilution of red. Blue was more popular for girls because of the connotations with traditional depictions of the virgin Mary. So regardless of whether females are more “attuned” to detect redder colours, the whole pink thing is a scandalous (IMHO) social construct.

  7. Bloody loved this Radio 4 documentary…so chuffed to learn that there are lots of concerned people out there who care enough to try and start a revolt again the revolting pink that has become a badge for the modern day little girl…it makes me shudder.

    The world has gone mad…keep this topic in the media…bring on the TV documentary!!

  8. Pingback: Another Radio 4 documentary – Whatever Happened to the Chemistry Set? | You do too much

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