I'd sign a petition to give the franchise to Brian Cox and give him a regular prime time slot, but the Beeb have squeezed TS@N and lost what it was all about in the first place: to give the public access to the truth about space. 50 years ago, people still believed in little green men so something has gone right at least.
The problem with astronomers is that they are all so clever. They forget that what is obvious to them is bizarre to most other people (take space time for example), so a TV show has to dumb it down to some degree, gethinceri
, or no one will get it. I've sat through lectures by the Astronomer Royal as well as other leading astro physicists and I get about 25% of what they are saying - if you let these people go, they lose almost everyone.
TS@N was always dumbed down, but Sir Patrick got the level right for the audience and the time. I remember the show 30 odd years ago that I was on - they used us children looking up a telescope of Saturn's and its rings, being told to say it looked like a fried egg or something.
When my old man went on the show to explain how he had worked out the way to determine the mass of a black hole, he took one of my conkers on a string and spun it around in the interview to explain his method. The conker was a star and it spun faster the more force he used on the string. Force was of course a proxy for gravity and from gravity you can determine mass. By using a conker, he bridged the gap in his explanation between scientific theory and a reality that was familiar to the audience.
For me that's what Cox does in his explanations too, although maybe he strays too far into supposition to be everyone's cup of tea. The point is that astronomy could still be wildly popular but it needs someone with a wide range of scientific and presentation skills for it to work.