A Driving Instructor's Blog

BBC 2 has a show called ‘Victorian Pharmacy’ (available on iPlayer), where they look into medicines of the Victorian era. I watched it last week for the first time, and have been unfortunate enough to turn it on again now while I wait for something decent to start (The Matrix is on at 10, so I’ll watch that for the hundredth time).

Victorian Pharmacy On The BBCI should point out that my direct experience of pharmacists over the years has been that they often believe they are only one step removed from being doctors, they look down on non-pharmacists (and aren’t ashamed to show it), and they think they’re a lot smarter than they actually are. That last one is the most enduring memory of them from my many years working in industry.

Several stick in my mind, due to their complete lack of any form of technical understanding. When I did my degree in Chemistry I had to do a module on pharmaceutics, and it was so boring. There was very little technical content, and much of it was about having to remember things. OK, I admit that the definition of pharmaceutics does imply knowledge of pharmacokinetics and the like, but it isn’t very detailed. I suspect that some pharmacists who really are up to it go on to specialise in these things, but that doesn’t appear to apply to any that I’ve worked with.

All credit to them: it gets them jobs (some high street stores won’t appoint a shop manager who isn’t a pharmacist if the store contains a pharmacy – even though being a good pharmacist and being a good shop manager are poles apart). They are very much a closed shop – I suspect Masonic influences in there somewhere.

But I digress. The BBC has decided that science of any kind can only be presented in semi-dramatic form. That means dressing up and pretending you are something else – in this case, Victorian. Even if those dressing up are real people and not just actors, those chosen have to be photogenic in the BBC sense of the word. They also have to be overtly extrovert, and up for anything. So this programme has a grinning gargoyle pretending to be a Victorian Pharmacist, a clucking old hen pretending to be… well, I don’t know what, and a spindly youth pretending to be a Victorian spindly youth. I believe that they are all pharmacists.

I just turned it off because the old hen is one of those people who laughs with that annoying old-person-appearing-on-TV laugh after every comment. The programme seems to be half-serious (in its own eyes) and half-taking the piss out of the Victorians for daring not to know what we know now.

Oh, for the days of the old Horizon or Open University shows – when scientific content was information based.

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