Animal, Vegetable, Mineral



Lionel Hale (pilot)

Glyn Daniel

John Betjeman (stand-in)

Prof. Barry Cunliffe (1971)


Regular panellists: Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Prof. Thomas Bodkin, Hugh Short, Dr. Julian Huxley, Adrian Digby, Norman Cook, Dr. W. E. Swinton, Jacquetta Hawkes.


BBC-tv, 23 October 1952 to 1959

BBC2, 30 May to 19 August 1971 (as A.V.M.)


A popular panel game in which archaeologists, art historians and natural history experts were asked to identify interesting objects from museums and university collections.

Key moments

There were a few uneasy moments during naturalist Julian Huxley's first appearance on the programme, when he failed to identify the egg of the Giant West African Snail, an object familiar to generations of zoology students. Certain that it was the egg of some sort of reptile, he even bet host Glyn Daniel five pounds that he was right. He wasn't, and he never paid up on the bet either.


This was one of the programmes commissioned by the "Talks Department" of the BBC. This was a tactical move, as it was one of a raft of programmes introduced to increase viewing hours ahead of the imminent arrival of ITV in 1955.

In the early series, the man responsible for selecting the items to be shown to the panel was none other than the young David Attenborough, who also acted as camera director on the show.

Archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, for many viewers the star of the show.

The tables were turned for the 1956 christmas special, when Glyn Daniel and Mortimer Wheeler selected the items to be put to a panel comprising David Attenborough (by then a TV star in his own right as host of "Zoo Quest"), series creator Paul Johnstone and producer Mary Adams.

Only four complete episodes exist in the BBC archives (telerecordings on film, of course, since videotape wasn't yet in use).


Nora Wood

See also


The Object in Question


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