Bangor University’s experts and students appear in Channel 4’s new series “Hidden Talent”

Dr Jamie Macdonald at the Old Man of StoerDr Jamie Macdonald at the Old Man of Stoer

Dr Jamie Macdonald  and Dr Tim Woodman of Bangor University’s School of Sport, Health & Exercise Sciences have been advising on a Channel 4 Series and will be appearing in the first show of the new series: Hidden Talent at 21.00 on Tuesday 24.4.12, along with some students from the University.

Hidden Talent is a new six-part series which discovers people with extraordinary hidden talents they never even dreamed they had. Hundreds of randomly selected people are put through a series of tests to identify those with hidden abilities, and nine participants discover if they can go from being a total novice to a top class performer in record time.

Overseen by scientists and academics, over 900 people from all around the country undergo testing, and a number are found to have special physical, mental, sensory or creative talents - of which they were totally unaware. The Hidden Talent experts then take them on, training and developing them to face extraordinary challenges and push their newly discovered Hidden Talent to its limit, a process which could even change the rest of their lives.

The first episode focuses on two drastically different skills, rock climbing and lie detection.  Dr Jamie Macdonald and Dr Tim Woodman devised a test that would draw out people’s natural attributes for rock climbing. They then assisted in the selection process narrowing the search to find the individuals they believed had the greatest potential to excel in rock climbing. Dr Woodman selected for the individuals’ psychological aptitude, while Jamie selected for their physical capabilities.

Dr Tim Woodman and Dr Jamie Macdonald at the Old Man of Stoer Martin Chester and Dr Jamie Macdonald at the Old Man of StoerThe academics ensured that local businesses including Plas y Brenin national Mountain Centre, Capel Curig the Nuffield Centre’s Indefatigable Climbing Wall in Llanfairpwll and Ropes & Ladders in Llanberis were also involved in the programme, which was filmed using several locations in Snowdonia and Anglesey. 

Dr Jamie Macdonald explained: “This was a fantastic opportunity for the School’s Extremes Research Group to be involved in project that illustrated our knowledge and how it can be applied.”

Commenting on the experience he said: “It was really interesting to realise that people can have latent talents that they don’t necessarily realise that they have.” 

Jamie put the programme makers in touch with world-class climbing coach Martin Chester, of Plas y Brenin who put the 10 finalists through a series of tasks testing their agility, ease with heights, leadership qualities and communication skills. Maggie, a 45 year-old nurse and grandmother, is selected to take her new-found skill even further by receiving one-on-one training ahead of her final challenge: to ascend the 200ft Old Man of Stoer sea stack in Scotland, the base of which can only be reached by abseiling across the turbulent sea, and normally takes years of training to attempt. Maggie's adult life began at 16 when she found herself alone with a baby to raise, but determined to prove she could succeed regardless. After just 18 days of intense tuition, through which Maggie displays true courage and tenacity, will she be able to show once again that she can conquer her fears and overcome this sheer 60m rockface?

Presenter Richard Bacon follows the participants’ progress - uncovering the amazing science which enables these individuals to achieve what others can only dream of. These talents range from latent linguistic skills that allow an individual to become fluent in a foreign language in just a few months, to the mammalian diving reflex enabling some people to hold their breath for up to four minutes and dive to a depth of 60 metres without scuba gear, or even an extraordinary sense of direction that makes someone a Human Sat-Nav, capable of finding their way through an uncharted wilderness.

The tests carried out on potential contributors are designed to assess aptitude rather than skills or knowledge, so viewers can also take part through specially designed interactive tests on the Channel 4 website. Mirroring those in the series, these absorbing and fun challenges are devised in consultation with the series' experts and give viewers the opportunity to uncover their own Hidden Talent - ranging from memory games and humming tasks to being a human metronome.

Developed and produced by Silver River, in association with American Express, this series explores how remarkable we are as human beings and reveals just what we could really capable of, using our Hidden Talent.

Publication date: 20 April 2012