Don’t Die Young

7:00pm Saturday, December 5 on Prime

Documentary Series

Dr Alice Roberts delves deep into the body’s most complex organ – the brain – and discovers how it can be tricked into seeing illusions which don’t exist, and how it can be trained to improve its memory function.

Rugby fanatic and primary school teacher Sean Gilbertson has trouble remembering the names of the 27 pupils in his class; he thinks it is down to the 40 separate concussions he has received playing his beloved sport. He has now been told to quit rugby – or risk damaging his brain permanently.

Alice invites Sean to her lab to find out more about the intricate workings of the brain, but will his newly gained knowledge persuade him to find a gentler sport?

They hope to learn more about the brain’s remarkable powers of memory courtesy of Dominic O’Brien – eight times world memory champion – who can recite the correct order of 54 packs of playing cards after seeing them just once.

Both Dominic and Sean have a brain scan which reveals how differently the brain works. Alice also discovers how sleep deprivation affects the brain, by sending the body hunger messages which lead her to eat more. She also sets out to discover whether getting a good night’s sleep can help people lose weight.

7:00pm Saturday, November 28 on Prime

Documentary Series

The body’s largest organ, the skin, comes under close scrutiny in this penultimate episode.

Alice puts her own outer layer through a series of tests, weathering temperature extremes and running her face through a computer programme – which ages her until she looks like an 80-year-old.

Alice asks whether the thousands of wrinkle creams on the high street are any good, or a complete waste of money. She also meets Ed Akerman, a 22-year-old farmer who exposes his skin to the hazards of the elements and his physical farming job on a daily basis. Alice puts his skin under the microscope to find out just how much damage he’s doing without the right protection.

The programme also features Dorothy Bloyce, a farmer’s wife in her sixties, who goes under the knife to remove a cancerous growth brought on by years of exposure to the sun and the elements.

7:00pm Saturday, November 21 on Prime

Documentary Series

Dr Alice Roberts undergoes a thorough eye examination in the latest episode in her tour of the body’s major organs.

As this hands-on, lecture-free guide to keeping your organs in good working order continues, Alice puts her own body to the test, beginning with a nail-biting 250ft climb up a sheer cliff face – blindfolded. She meets Sarah Crump, who has a family history of eye problems, and sets out to discover whether Sarah’s computer and TV-dependent lifestyle are affecting her sight.

In the process, Alice investigates just how good carrots really are for the eyes and whether the vast range of sunglasses available on the high street offers enough protection from sun damage. She also checks out the pros and cons of modern laser eye surgery and gets a first-hand account of living with vision impairment.

7:00pm Saturday, November 14 on Prime

Documentary Series

As a hard-working organ, making sure that every muscle, tissue and cell in the body gets just what it needs, the heart is in need of some love.

Thirty-six-year-old Stephen Hall is putting his heart under plenty of stress. As a self-confessed workaholic running his own busy gastro pub, he is finding life pretty hectic. When he wants to wind down, he does all the wrong things – binge drinks, binge smokes and binge eats. He’s putting strain on his heart, and even when he tries his best to exercise by playing football, he becomes so stressed out on the pitch that he often gets sent off. Dr Alice puts Stephen’s heart and stress levels through a series of tests and, when he gets the results, he knows he has to make some drastic changes to his lifestyle.

Alice also puts her own heart under plenty of pressure – 3,000 feet up in a stunt plane, performing acrobatic stunts to find out just what happens to her heart rate when it’s under stress.

When she’s back on the ground she visits a pub and a chip shop – all in the name of good science, of course – to analyse just what happens to her heart when she’s drinking alcohol and eating chips with a slathering of grated cheese on top. Alice also finds out why a couple of alcoholic drinks are good for the heart, and sees for herself just how greasy chip fat looks when it hits her blood stream. Armed with this new knowledge, people can all make choices to keep their hearts – and all the organs in the body – working better, for longer.

7:00pm Saturday, November 7 on Prime

Documentary Series

Can you tell your spleen from your gallbladder? In fact, do you even know where they are, let alone what they do? This new series takes a no-nonsense approach to health and medicine. Anatomy expert Dr Alice Roberts takes us on a high-energy revelatory trip around the body, giving us an essential guide to our internal organs.

The heart of the programme comes from Alice’s lab, where she dissects organs and shows how, from colour, size and shape alone, you can tell how healthy an organ is and alarmingly, in the case of our lungs, where we live.

EPISODE TWO: Dr Alice Roberts deploys some shock tactics to make one confirmed smoker realise just how much she’s damaging her lungs.

Thirty-four-year-old Lisa Garrity’s will power always lets her down and on a night in the pub, she can easily binge smoke her way through 40 cigarettes. Lisa’s chosen sport is trapeze, but she gets out of breath pretty quickly and knows that quitting the cigarettes will make her a better performer.

She meets Alice in the laboratory where they dissect a set of pig’s lungs (very similar to the human lung) to discover just how they work and what they do. Alice takes Lisa to see an operation carried out on 56-year-old Christine Aughton from Wolverhampton, who has a cancerous tumour on her lungs after years of smoking. Lisa is brought face to face with the tumour and realises this is exactly what she could be facing if she doesn’t give up.

Meanwhile, Alice puts her own lungs through a different test – measuring their function while she suffers an asthma attack triggered by her allergy to dust mites. She also wants to know if her cycling might be doing her more harm than good when she travels through city traffic, so Alice tests a piece of kit which analyses her carbon monoxide intake. She also discovers which vitamin-packed foods make up a tasty meal and can help keep the lungs – and all the organs in the body – working at peak performance.

7:00pm Saturday, October 31 on Prime

Documentary Series

Can you tell your spleen from your gallbladder? In fact, do you even know where they are, let alone what they do? This new series takes a no-nonsense approach to health and medicine. Anatomy expert Dr Alice Roberts takes us on a high-energy revelatory trip around the body, giving us an essential guide to our internal organs.

The heart of the programme comes from Alice’s lab, where she dissects organs and shows how, from colour, size and shape alone, you can tell how healthy an organ is and alarmingly, in the case of our lungs, where we live.

EPISODE ONE: In this fascinating tour of the human body, Dr Alice Roberts introduces viewers to the key organs, explaining their functions and idiosyncrasies. She puts her gloves on and gets her scalpel out to dissect animal organs – similar in form and function to human ones – and cuts through the jargon and the myths to find out how we can hold on to our health and live to a ripe old age.

In this episode, Alice meets party girl and mum of two Grainne, from Welwyn Garden City, who, at nearly 40 and with a family history of diabetes, is stressing out her kidneys. Grainne visits the lab to discover more about the body’s filtration system and helps dissect a kidney to see the internal workings for herself. Armed with the information, she finally plucks up the courage to take a diabetes test.

Alice also puts three rugby players through their paces to find out how their kidneys cope under the stress of dehydration, and June from Aberdeen speaks from her own experience about what happens when kidneys fail. She has been on dialysis for four years, and her sister, Lorraine, offers her own kidney. When it is found to be a match, the programme follows the live kidney transplant operation. But the operation is not straightforward and there is a tough call for the surgeon.