James May’s Man Lab is a British television series presented by former Top Gear presenter James May. The first, three-part series was aired on BBC Two between 31 October and 14 November 2010. The second, five-part series was aired between 25 October and 18 December 2011. Repeats of Series 2 continued on late night BBC One with signing for the deaf throughout January 2012.
Series 3 began broadcasting in March 2013, after James May’s other co-hosted TV show (Top Gear) finished Series 19. Series One was released on DVD on 7 November 2011 by Acorn Media UK, followed by Series Two on 8 October 2012.
The series explores traditional skills that are being lost by the modern man, and shows how to stop them from being lost forever. Each episode has a variety of themed tasks, including construction, seduction, destruction and more. If science, geometry, maths, logic and explosives can be used in these tasks, so much the better. Tasks include sending a dead pet’s ashes into space using a homemade hydrogen balloon, creating one’s own smelting furnace, constructing a pool table, felling a tree using explosives, escaping from Dartmoor prison whilst avoiding detection from expert trackers and making a magnetic ceiling panel to throw your keys at so you don’t lose them.
The first series also had a celebrity man task, where a celebrity attempted to beat a personal best at a certain ‘man task’, such as changing a tyre; however, this aspect was not continued into series two. The theme tune was written by May himself and is often played live over the end credits by a variety of different performers, including barber shop quartet, bagpipes and more.
by simon schofield