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Forensics On TV – Everyone Now Wants to be a Scientists


As more and more students are claiming their career choice was inspired by a TV show, CSI has a lot to answer for. But more and more of the public are aware of the availability of taking a DNA test than ever before. Although the TV detective shows focus on forensics and crime, the DNA test is even used on chat show-style programmes such as the Jeremy Kyle Show, to prove paternity or uncover lost sisters or brothers.

The DNA Test and Crime

More of us are aware of the benefits of using a DNA based test in our everyday lives – especially when it comes to crucial emotional issues such as paternity tests. But it’s crime on TV that has captured the public’s imagination and as a result, there has been an increase in students studying forensic science. With sexy blonde Catherine Willows or dark and handsome Nick Stokes talking about forensics on Channel Five’s Crime Scene Investigation, it’s no wonder interest has been piqued.

DNA and TV Careers

In fact, in a survey by a recruitment firm, 62% of students said television dramas such as CSI and Law and Order made forensics, such as doing a DNA forensic test from a crime scene, look so exciting that they would consider it as a career. And its not just forensics – 57% wanted to become spies thanks to BBC MI5 drama, Spooks and half of them wanted to become journalists like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City.

What About Engineering?

Students were so inspired to look into forensics and do a job involving undertaking a DNA test or pathology that the number on degree courses has increased dramatically. So much so that engineering organisations are offering scriptwriters £35,000 of prizes to encourage a TV show featuring engineering to help boost the shortage of engineers.

Straight to the Headmaster’s Office

But not all fictional shows are good news – Teachers and Waterloo Road have been criticized by teaching organizations for the portrayal of unprofessional behaviour in the profession. However, the realities of many forensic-style jobs that involve genetic testing or taking a test aren’t as glamorous as TV. For a government forensic scientist, results can be painstakingly slow, behind the scenes and not at all glamorous. One such case was that of Dr Jonathan Whitaker who used a test to build up evidence against James Hanratty who was hanged for the attempted murder of Valerie Storie in 1962. His family disputed his guilt, but by using the DNA test Dr Whitaker could go back 40 years to collaborate the evidence. However forensic scientists are much more likely to be back at the lab doing DNA profiling work than out on exciting crime scenes looking glamorous.

Related articles

If you scan the news headlines over recent years, it’s clear to see that the DNA test has revolutionised how police catch criminals. Read an informative article about Solving the Biggest Criminal Cases with DNA Testing

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