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"Look around you... Look around you... Just look around you... There. Now, take a closer look... Have you worked out what we're looking for?... Correct. The answer is Calcium".

"Jean is shorter than Brutus, but taller than Imhotep. Imhotep is taller than Jean, but shorter than Lord Scotland. Lord Scotland is twice the height of Jean and Brutus combined, but only one-tenth of the height of Millsy. Millsy is at a constant height of xy. If Jean stands exactly one nautical mile away from Lord Scotland, how tall is Imhotep?"The answer: 

This British comedy series, which originally aired on BBC Two from 2002–05 (and later rerun in the US by [adult swim]), is an Affectionate Parody of educational programming such as Television for Schools in series 1, and later a Mockumentary in the style of Tomorrow's World. The series mimics perfectly the style of British programming in the 1970s, right down to using authentic period cameras and effects. The "science" seen in the series bears no resemblance whatsoever to that of the real world (mixing sulphur with champagne gives sulphagne, and it gives you powerful Eye Beams if you drink it; passing nitrogen gas through mains water produces whisky, and iron was invented in the 18th century by a cyclops named "Lord Iron de Haviland"), but, nevertheless, the spot-on parodies of educational programming and "almost-correct" science means the writers have Shown Their Work.

The BBC have recently added old clips of Tomorrow's World to their website. However, they've hidden ''Look Around You'' episodes with it. Can you guess which ones are which?

The second series was almost a total change from the first — the 10 minute episodes became 30, the action moved from lab to studio, and the faceless voiceover was replaced by presenters delivering parodic Witty Banter.

After 8 unbearable years of No Export for You, as of July 20th, 2010, the BBC have finally released a Region 1 DVD set of the first series.

Have you worked out what we're looking for? Correct, the answer is: tropes!

  • Aerith and Bob: Helen, Rosy and Partario.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Although Bournemouth has a sinister knack for escape artistry, he otherwise seems like a perfectly nice computer.
  • Artistic License – Biology: "Almost all living things have brains. If we look inside one of these peas, we can see its tiny brain."
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Runs off this. Sulphur + Champagne -> Sulphagne, atoms that swarm like bees, a sentient variety of calcium...
  • Ascended Extra: Jack Morgan was a one-shot character for Series 1, but was brought back for Series 2 as a main character.
  • Ass Shove: In "Germs", Professor Clifford Miles has his temperature taken as part of an experiment on the spread of germs. We see him pull down his pants, bend over, and the scientist approaches from behind with a thermometer and flips up his coattail, before we see a close-up of his wincing face.
  • Auto Doc: Medibot, from the second season, is a robotic surgeon. It's shown performing plastic surgery on Jack Morgan.
  • Back from the Dead: Parodied. "Viewers distressed at the death of Clive Pounds, who died during production of this programme, may be pleased to hear that he has since come back to life." Also the ill professor from 'Germs' shows up as a spirit in 'Ghosts', implying he suffered from a Bus Crash.
  • Beneficial Disease: There's the disease geodermic granititis, called "Cobbles", which causes the skin to take on the appearance of stone until the victim looks like a pile of rocks. A scientist who discovered a cure for the disease, a sufferer himself, opted not to use it because Cobbles enables the sufferer to fly, which he enjoyed.
  • Big Eater: Apparently the average Briton will typically eat breakfast, brunch, elevenses, lunch, twelvses, apres-lunch, St. Matthew's meal, tea, supper, dinner, midnight snack, and 2AM snack in a day.
  • Black Humor: Much of the humor derives from the narration blithely ignoring the detrimental effects of the experiments on the subjects (for instance, the boiled-egg experiment, where the subject retrieves the eggs from the boiling water with an increasingly burned hand).
  • The Blank:
    • In the last episode of Series 2, HRH Sir Prince Charles ends up looking faceless after Leonard Hatred sprays him with his "Psilence" liquid skin. (It's not explained how His Royal Highness is able to breathe after this happens, but he seems to manage.)
    • The Helvetica Scenario, as depicted in the Calcium pilot, causes the victim's mouth and eye sockets to fill up.
  • Blatant Lies: Do not trust Look Around You as a source of reliable information of any kind.
  • *Bleep*-dammit!: When the survey for men's preferences from Popular Men's Leisure Magazine is displayed, the word "sex" (coming in at #2) is written as "s*x".
  • Blood Sport: "Stabbing" and "Mixed Stabbing" are among the newer Olympic disciplines.
  • Boring Broadcaster: The show is an Affectionate Parody of the educational programming aired during the daytime by the BBC and ITV until the early 1990's (intended to be watched live at school before the advent of the VCR), right down to the 1970's production values.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    • A Running Gag features the narrator repeating a courtesy in the form of a portmanteau. "Thanks, ants. Thants."
    • Anti-Cobbles cream contains cream, potassium, nitrates, potassium nitrates, and nitrate of potassium nitrate.
    • The "Iron" episode features a model of an iron molecule, and a model of a model of an iron molecule, modelled in iron.
  • Brown Note: The boite diabolique, a keyboard which plays notes that humanity was not meant to hear. The volume on the TV is muted before the scientist plays those notes, causing his ears to bleed.
  • Calculator Spelling: Shows up when presenting a modern snowman: batteries for eyes, radio antenna for a nose, and a calculator reading "HELLO" for a mouth.
  • Camera Abuse: When Ros Lamb uses di-tutetamine brohohibe (caramel-flavored rocket fuel) to give herself Super-Speed, the resulting sound is so loud, one of the cameras' lens cracks.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The show itself follows the most cloud-cuckoolandish logic imaginable and, depending on how you interpret it, either the fictional creators are a bunch of Cloud Cuckoolanders, or they're straightforward scientists living in a pure Cloud Cuckooland universe.
  • Continuity Nod: The ill professor from 'Germs' shows up in 'Ghosts' as a spirit. Also, the incredibly inaccurate periodic table shows up every so often.
  • Credits Gag: False continuity announcements are run over the ending credits, and some episodes are prefaced by fake adverts listing the line-up for "St. Frankenstein's Day" and "Antmas Eve".
  • Curse Cut Short: In the outro to the "Music" episode, the fuse of a bunch of dynamite burns down. Just as it's about to hit the dynamite (with a scientist staring intently at it from about a foot away), the credits finish.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The first series likes this trope, which often results in the narrator giving hilariously circular and unhelpful descriptions.
    • "But we do know that water is the most powerful substance on Earth, and, whatever form it's in, be it ice, vapour, or just water..."
    • "Here is a model of an iron molecule. And here is a model of a model of an iron molecule, modelled in iron."
    • On the brain: "Think of it as a kind of modified heart, only with a mind, or brain."
    • On germs: "They're basically a form of malevolent bacteria with one purpose: to spread germs."
    • From the second series: "That's according to the latest survey carried out by popular men's leisure magazine, Popular Men's Leisure Magazine."
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Pam discusses the new-fangled "computer games" with a man playing one, frantically waggling a joystick held in his lap with mounting excitement.
  • Dresses the Same: One of the "Maths" exercises is to compute the probability of this happening. The party gets canceled.
  • Drinking Game: Watch this show with a chemist, physician, or other scientist, and take a drink every time you see them twitch.
  • Drone of Dread: One plays in the Calcium episode when the narrator mentions starving to death, showing gravestones.
  • DVD Bonus Content: The bonus content includes a quiz with incorrect answers, a badly scrambled Ceefax page, and authentic captioning, in the style of 1980s Ceefax subtitles.
  • DVD Commentary: Parodied by having Jack Morgan commenting on the "Little Mouse" video. invoked
  • Educational Short: The genre parodies classroom educational shorts.
  • E = MC Hammer: Watch the show with anyone whow knows how chemical reactions work and watch them twitch.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Jack Morgan, according to Peter Packard in the Health episode.
  • Expo Label: Old-style red laboratory labels on absolutely everything in the first series.
  • Eye Beams:
    • One test subject, Len Pounds, becomes able to fire lasers from his eyes after ingesting a mixture of champagne and powdered sulphur, or "sulphagne." (Sulfane is another word for hydrogen sulfide, a hideously poisonous gas that also gives rotten eggs their stench.) The beams cause whatever they hit to vanish if focused on for long enough, though this does take some time, so when Pounds tries using the beams to kill the scientist, this leaves him open to having the beam reflected back at him with a mirror... or simply getting shot dead with a gun.
    • Future Pam also demonstrates an eye beam with her nuclear eye.
  • Fake Shemp: Subverted. HRH Sir Prince Charles is played up throughout the entire series with a single stock photograph, then in the final episode, he is introduced with several obscured-face and back-of-head shots. When he arrives in the studio, he is portrayed by adeptly blended-in archive footage and convincingly dubbed by Peter Serafinowicz.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: In the last episode:
    Pam: And Sam, how about you? How many times have you had sex?
    (the Studio Audience laughs a bit)
    Pam: Sorry. Um, how many times have you changed sex?
  • Fictional Sport: One episode in the second season features "gonnis" (golf tennis). It also previews darts fencing.
  • Five-Token Band: Jean, Brutus, Millsy, Lord Scotland, and Imhotep.
  • Flight:
    • The series takes for granted that some people can fly, complete with footage of people flying to work accompanied by an entirely matter-of-fact voice-over including the line "if you can fly".
    • The second series also features geodermic granititis, or Cobbles, a disease that literally reduces its victims into piles of rock, but "it's not all bad - at least you can fly".
  • Foreign Queasine: The "Germs" episode reveals that apparently, in the world of ''Look Around You", dead moths are a popular sandwich topping.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "Maths" sands for "Mathematical Anti-Telharsic Harfatum Septomin".
  • Fun with Subtitles: In the last episode, Pam and Peter's names are switched when initially shown, and was quickly corrected. Later, when Simon Teigh's invention was shown, his name was briefly displayed as "Caption".
  • Future Badass: Pam meets her future self as a birthday present. (Shockingly, she is unsurprised, even when she finds out what her life will be like.)
  • Gender Bender: The sex change machine, derived from a dry cleaning machine. It takes five minutes and sprays you with hormones.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: High-pitched tones can break glass. Low-pitched tones can reconstruct it.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Sung at the end of the "Food" episode, with additional lyrics.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Here's a pair of tits." Purely intentional.
  • Hollywood Magnetism: In the episode "Sulfur", they test to see whether sulfur has any magnetic properties. So they use a sheet of paper to "shield" the sulfur from the magnet until everything is in place.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: The pilot uses this trope in the conversation with intelligent calcium, where the aforementioned substance answers the scientist's question of "how do you feel?" with "cold". The scientist then forces the obvious conclusion by capping the test tube, suffocating the intelligent calcium inside.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: In one of the math questions, Jean is said to be taller than Imhotep. This is immediately followed by Imhotep being described as taller than Jean.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: During the "Iron" episode's electricity experiment: "We're using AC/DC because it's heavy metal."
    • In the "Maths" episode, the narrator says a pencil bag should contain "a pair of compasses". Cue the scientist pulling two (navigational) compasses out of a pencil bag.
    • In the "Water" episode, while boiling eggs: "Make sure you look out for the release of the new albumen. It's out now."
    • "Germs originated in Germany".
    • "When you think of Pennsylvania, you probably think of pencils."
    • "This is a starling. It's migrated all the way from Russia" (a map points to "Starlingrad")
  • Insane Troll Logic: Calcium isn't soluble in water. If it were, our teeth would dissolve in saliva, we would be unable to process foods, and starve.
  • Italians Talk with Hands: In the "On the Next" segment of the "Sulphur" episode, the subject of the next episode is said to be Italians. The subject is shown to be talking while gesticulating with his hands.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Peter's reaction to "Rap" music.
  • Little Known Facts: The entire point of the series.
  • Made of Explodium: Moth apples, grown from the Milenius mytoteme bacteria, are smaller and sweeter than crab apples, but also highly explosive. We see a man try to eat one, only for his head to explode.
  • Medical Monarch: Subverted: according to the Royalty quiz, Prince Charles can control hurricanes.
  • Motor Mouth: A side-effect of using an electric toothbrush (which literally zaps your teeth with electricity to clean them) is sped-up speech. Pealy experiences this after testing out the toothbrush.
  • Multi-Ethnic Name: "Sport" has an extremely Scottish news correspondent named Mario Abdullah-Levy.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: Parodied when the scientist who conducts the experiment on sulphur's magnetism destroys the equipment by dropping it into a trash can, then pulling out a gun and shooting at it several times. Later in the episode, Len Pounds, the subject who drank sulphagne, tries using his Eye Beams to kill the scientist; after reflecting the beams back and forth a few times using mirrors, the scientist simply pulls out his gun again, and multiple gunshots are heard as the screen fades to black.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Leonard Hatred seems to have some issues.
  • Nightmare Sequence: In "Health", Professor Keith Craven plays a videotape of his previous night's dream.
  • No Last Name Given: Patricia          from the second series' "Computers" episode is a subversion. She has a surname but it's silent.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The scientist performing the experiments has absolutely no regard for his own safety, gluing objects to his hand, reaching into a beaker of boiling water three times...
  • Obituary Montage: Parodied with a voiceover at the end of the episode stating "viewers distressed at the death of Clive Pounds, who died during production of this programme, may be pleased to hear that he has since come back to life."
  • Otaku: Synthesizer Patel is, as his name suggests, a massive synthesizer enthusiast (he actually changed his name because of how much he loves them), collecting several expensive synths and alternating between praising the instruments and complaining about thieves trying to steal them from him (which have led him to install a variety of security systems on his synthesizers).
  • Once an Episode: Every episode of the first series included the "copybook clip" (taken from the pilot), showing an amusingly intent-looking schoolboy (played by an adult) with a Look Around You textbook.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted in the second series' "Music", which features three contestants named Tony, Toni, and Antony.
  • On the Next: Each episode of the first series ends with a clip from what is supposedly the next episode, even though no such episode exists, and each clip generally ends with some sort of mistake (a scientist standing next to a lit stick of dynamite, or confusing flowers with flours)
  • Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future
  • Parodic Table of the Elements: The entire Periodic Table of the Elements as used on Look Around You is available on the BBC website here, featuring such elements as "manganesium", "fool's gold", "music", "toronto", "jazz", "lambert" and "hello". It can also be seen on the season 1 DVD if you squint.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: The show regularly throws out convincing but completely made-up scientific jargon, particularly in the first series which has several per episode. Included are fictitious chemicals ("bumcivilian", "segnomin", "St. Thomas' oil"), laboratory equipment ("Besselheim plate", "gribbin"), units of measurement ("billigrams", "quorums per second") and many more. The "Iron" episode includes a "Ravenscroft pan", which may be a concealed Shout-Out to the well-known BBC DJ John Peel (real name John Ravenscroft).
  • Poe's Law: Almost inevitable.
  • Pokémon Speak: Medibot can only say its own name in Machine Monotone.
  • Portmanteau: "Thanks, ants. Thants." Turned into a Running Gag throughout the second series.
  • Post-Modern Magik:
    • The Halloween episode Ghosts considered the science of ghosts, such as what would happen if a roll of Sellotape was possessed, or how effective a lab partner ghosts were.
    • In a season 2 episode, Tchaikovsky's ghost judges a music contest.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: Running electricity through a metal pyramid causes scissors to appear in the sky. Some people can fly just by thinking about it (others fly due to a skin disease that turns your skin into rocks). Drinking a mixture of champagne and sulfur gives you Eye Beams, while caramel-flavored rocket fuel lets you run from Nottingham to Aberdeen in less than five minutes, at the cost of shrinking you down. His Royal Highness Prince Charles can control hurricanes. All of this is considered perfectly normal.
  • Retraux: Designed to mimic, right down to the means of the production, the educational/science programs of the 1970's and '80s on British television, despite being filmed in the '00s.
  • The Reveal: At the very end of season one, one of the gathered cast and crew members says the last thing you'd expect any of them to say: Look around you!
  • Running Gag:
    • The ridiculous Portmanteaus lasted the entire run. The first series also had the opening sequences in which clips of (supposedly) stock footage that clearly did not indicate today's topic would be played while the narrator intoned "Look around you... can you tell what you are looking for? Correct. It's [BIZARRE TOPIC]."
    • "Write that down in your copybook now" is uttered at random points for often-irrelevant factoids.
    • The calcium episode begins by demonstrating the adhesive power of calcium, sticking a coin on the back of the scientist's hand. Later experiments, the coin is still there.
    • In the episode about iron a scientist demonstrates the use of it in handcuffs by snapping on a pair. In a later experiment, the scientist's hands are only seen in extreme closeup to disguise the fact that he still has the handcuffs on, despite the fact that he obviously can't separate them. Finally there's a scene in which the handcuffs are still worn albeit with the chain cut.
    • Every episode of season two has the Inventor of the Year award, with a close-up of a magnificent trophy to be presented by His Royal Highness Prince Charles.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: An example of a new fat loss program includes a horrifying picture supposed to scare people from eating, suppress appetite and even cause fat to ooze from the sweat glands. The episode features a lengthy "send your children out of the room" sequence, only for the actual image (a stuffed bear and a model skeleton) to be hilariously tame.
  • Science Show: Series 1 parodies the science programmes that you might be shown in school. The format has the narrator alternate between explaining the episode's topic and demonstrating relevant science experiments. However, most of the science is completely bogus and made up, in ways that range from subtle to Blatant Lies.
  • Shout-Out: At the beginning of Music, the bottles' embossing tape read the following: Rock, Metal, Earth, Wind & Fire.
  • Shrinking Violet: Toni Baxter, a Music 2000 contestant, who answers every question with "I don't know" while looking at the ground... and her song is called "Sexual Interface".
  • Sound-Only Death: After Len Pounds tries killing the scientist with his Eye Beams, the scientist pulls out a gun and the screen fades to black before several gunshots are heard.
  • Stealth Pun: In the "Sport" episode, a list of a list of new Olympic sports begins with Bomerang, and also ends with Boomerang. Boomerang comes back.
    • In "Brain" we see that even a vegetable like a pea has a brain of its own. In the DVD Audio Commentary Popper and Serafinowicz express their pride at having managed to resist the temptation to use the phrase "pea brain".
    • At one point, sulphur and champagne are mixed to make 'sulphagne'. note 
    • The "St Frankenstein's Day" programme listings in the second series mention something called The Honey Programme, which apparently has something to do with bees but will include as a guest the unnamed lead singer of The Police. Better known as Sting.
  • Stock Footage: Frequently parodied in the first series (the footage that appeared was bizarre to say the least: a man with no teeth trying to eat a burger, children graffiting calculus onto the walls of a house, and an old lady asking how much 5p scraps of meat cost), while the second series digitally edits stock footage of Prince Charles so he appears to be presenting the Look Around You award.
  • Stylistic Suck: Jack's "Little Mouse" and "Reggae Man" singles and all three Music 2000 entries.
  • Take Our Word for It:
    • Before the "boite diabolique" is played in "Music", the volume on the TV is muted.
    • In "Sports", a new football is invented which is 250 times rounder than a sphere. For legal reasons, it's not allowed to be shown on-screen, so it's hidden behind a curtain.
  • The Unreveal: In the live special of Series 2, a man can be seen outside the studio holding a sign reading "Hot Jon". When Jack Morgan asks him about the sign's meaning, the sound is briefly cut due to technical difficulties, leading to the explanation being unheard.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Fantastic phenomena, such as ghosts and flight, are at most treated as mildly interesting. The sulphagne experiment, which gives a man Eye Beams, is described similarly to how one would explain a vinegar and baking soda volcano to a child.
  • Video Inside, Film Outside: Probably purposely done for a Retraux feel.
  • Ye Olde Butchered English: The narrator lapses into this when he sees the devastation water brings upon a group of ants.
    Narrator: "Water, water: what hast thou dunst?"
  • Your Head Asplode: Moth apples are highly explosive, which is demonstrated by having a man eat one, followed by his head exploding (in a non-gory way).

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