Congratulations to Miles Kempton for publishing article on primate ethology



‘Miles’s article, ‘Commercial television and primate ethology: between Granada and London Zoo’, has just been published online by the British Journal for the History of Science. It shows how Britain’s new commercial TV service, ITV, helped to launch the modern study of primate facial expressions in the early 1960s. Charting the production and multiple uses of ‘Animal Expressions’, a TV programme based on research by the Dutch zoologist Jan van Hooff, Miles emphasizes the mutual shaping of science and ITV during television’s formative decade

The article forms part of Miles’s broader PhD research on the history of primate behaviour studies at London Zoo in the 1950s and 1960s. His thesis aims to show how Granada TV transformed natural history television by allying with ethology, the evolutionary science of behaviour, with far-reaching effects in debates about humanity's apish nature. Challenging the BBC-centricity of scholarship on science communication, his project is the very first historical investigation of science programmes on ITV. It begins with the launch of the new commercial service in 1955 and traces the establishment, outputs, and legacies of the Granada TV-Zoological Society Film Unit at London Zoo—the first such unit to be based in a menagerie. It argues that the unit was a crucial enabling condition for zoologist Desmond Morris’s authorship of The Naked Ape (1967), and that it primed TV audiences for the book’s sensational publication and reception’.