MONKEYS, RATS AND ME: ANIMAL TESTING
This year, the building of the Oxford animal lab has triggered the most important conflict between scientists and the animal rights movement for a century.
It began on 30 November 2005, when building work restarted on Oxford University's controversial £18 million animal experimentation laboratory - after contractors had pulled out previously after a campaign of threats and intimidation.
For the past year, RTS award-winning documentary director Adam Wishart (the author of ONE IN THREE: a son's journey into the history and science of cancer) has had a ring-side seat at the heart of the conflict. It's a story about how scientists who had been too scared to talk found a voice thanks to the campaigning efforts of a 16-year- old. And about the animal rights activists, who have been prepared to do anything in the face of an ever more determined Government.
The documentary has unprecedented access to all sides. It hears from Professor Tipu Aziz, a brain surgeon and experimenter on monkeys - one of the few Oxford scientists prepared to speak out. The programme follows an operation - which was partly developed using monkeys - by Prof Aziz on 13-year-old disabled boy. Will he walk again?
Cameras also follow animal rights activist Mel Broughton as he does his utmost to prevent construction continuing. And Laurie Pycroft, the 16-year-old founder of the Pro-Test movement campaigning for animal experimentation.
Beyond the shouting there is a moral question. Oxford University has given unprecedented access to the animal houses to reveal what happens to monkeys in experiments, and to rats as electrodes are inserted into their brains. Over the course of the film, Adam Wishart attempts to determine if these experiments are effective? And even if they are, are they ethical?
WINNER OF THE GRIERSON AWARD FOR BEST SCIENCE DOCUMENTARY 2007
"[an] outstanding documentary... a fine piece of TV." The Observer.
"Riveting and revealing" The Sunday Times.
"Excellent documentary... Thoughtful television." The Guardian
"An intelligent and thought-provoking film." The Daily Telegraph
"[a] riveting documentary" Radio Times
In the News:
An outstanding documentary... One of the many triumphs of Adam Wishart's film was that it showed Broughton to be a skilled, passionate, articulate and charismatic leader..... the documentary remained clear-eyed and carefully unsentimental - about the rights of animals, about the rights of people, about the difficulty of engaging in rational debate with fanatical anti-vivisectionists and of drawing rational boundaries around the privileging of human comfort over animal. Lucy Mangan, in The Guardian.
Wishart brilliantly caught the essence of his “characters”: Broughton’s unyielding activism, Professor Aziz’s innate eccentricity, and the spooky steeliness of Laurie Pycroft, a teenager incensed by the antis, who having started a pro-testing website, went on to lead a march, the first of its kind in more than 100 years, through the streets of Oxford in favour of the new lab. In a wonderful moment, Wishart captured Pycroft being primed by one of his spotty teenage cohorts turned spin doctor. There was lots of sharp detail. Tim Teeman, The Times.
Monkeys, Rats and Me was a neat piece of work. The Telegraph