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The Fantastic Mr Feynman

The Fantastic Mr Feynman

Sun May 12, 9.30-10.30pm, BBC2

By Adam Lee Davies
Considered by his peers to have been one of the ten greatest physicists of all time, Richard Feynman worked on the Manhattan Project, which developed the atom bomb, won the Nobel Prize for his work on subatomic particles and pioneered the field of quantum computing. He was also a freewheelin’, mischief-loving, anti-authoritarian bongo player with a weakness for go-go dancers.

He appears to be a man whose peccadilloes were indulged thanks to his staggering intelligence and preternatural capacity for out-of-the-box problem solving. Perhaps this amiable documentary – co-produced with the Open University – might have been even better were its winsome, almost Wes Anderson-esque take on Feynman’s life similarly underpinned with the odd dash of hard science.

Instead, Feynman comes across like everyone’s Fantasy Jewish Uncle. Which is all very nice and warm and fuzzy, but it might have been interesting to have been given a peek at his day job as well as his Sunday afternoon persona. Interested parties might be better off with William Hurt-led biopic ‘The Challenger’ at 8pm, addressing Feynman’s investigation into the 1986 shuttle disaster.

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