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started9th Jan 1991
ended20th Mar 1991
last rpt1st Dec 1993
4 school years
duration15 mins
age rangeAge 7-9
languageenIn English

Mathscope is a BBC schools TV series from the 1990s, covering Mathematics for primary school pupils.

Martin Roberts

A practical maths series presented by Martin Roberts, who works at the "Local Daily News". The newspaper is too boring so Martin has been charged with reinvigorating it by introducing a maths-based pull-out supplement. Needless to say this is a tremendous success.

Martin's preparations for features in the Mathscope supplement provide opportunities for him to talk to viewers about aspects of mathematics. He also uses the office computers to prepare graphs, and has severe difficulties with a coffee machine.


Each episode also features animated sequences with a character called O'Liney, who is literally just a piece of string - a piece of string as might be found in any classroom and used by pupils for their own investigations.

There are documentary films showing people using maths in quite unusual "everyday" activities - such as a blind person finding their way to the shops by imagining a clock face for direction, the Royal Mint turning raw metals into pound coins, and Bill Giles explaining how he uses patterns to predict the weather.

The children with Mike & Dawn

The main part of each episode was a drama about a group of children at an adventure playground in the same area where the Local Daily News is published. Karen moves in to the area is introduced to Jess, Omar, whose parents own a corner shop, and Darren, who uses a wheelchair and organises all of the others. There are also two grown-ups, Dawn and Mike, who work at the adventure playground.

Towards the end of the series the council threatens to knock down the playground to put in a new road, but the children do surveys and create graphs in an attempt to influence the planning committee.

The playground drama was filmed at Whittington Park Adventure Playground in Holloway[1], but was known as Babbage Park Adventure Playground in the series.


# Title Broadcast
1. Mathstrail 9 Jan 1991
2. Measuring 16 Jan 1991
3. Routes and Maps 23 Jan 1991
4. Patterns 30 Jan 1991
5. Boxes 6 Feb 1991
6. Shops and Supermarkets 13 Feb 1991
7. Time and Travel 27 Feb 1991
8. The Summer Fair 6 Mar 1991
9. Play Centre Threat 13 Mar 1991
10. Play Centre Saved? 20 Mar 1991


Presented by Martin Roberts
Starring Oliver Cook as Darren Anderson

Leanne Ormesher as Karen Williams
Navile Gamal-Eldin as Omar Rashid
Maxine Lyseight as Jess
Jenna Russell as Dawn Jeffries
Adrian Rawlins as Mike Saunders

with Shaheen Khan as Mrs Rashid

Marc Zuber as Mr Rashid
Tania Rodrigues as Farah
Joanna Brookes as Mrs Williams
Paul Raffield as Mr Williams
Adam Blackwood as Barry the photographer
Tina Marian as a woman that Barry meets
Shaun Prendergast as the lorry driver
Martin Sadler & Nicholas Caunter as surveyors

Drama written by Stephen Deal

Julia Drum

Music Dave Cooke
Consultant Angela Walsh
Education officer David Watkins
Design Mary Greaves

Stephen Brownsey

Directors Andrea Christodoulou

Vivienne Cozens
Neil Bender
Wendie Hardie

Series producer Julia Drum


  • Spring 1991: Wednesdays 9:30am, repeated Thursdays 9:30am
  • Autumn 1991: Mondays 10:00am, repeated Thursdays 10:00am
  • Autumn 1992: Mondays 10:00am, repeated Thursdays 10:00am
  • Autumn 1993: Tuesdays 10:45am, repeated Wednesdays 9:30am

Mathscope follows shortly 1991 a.jpg Mathscope follows shortly 1991 b.jpg Mathscope follows shortly 1991 c.jpg


Teacher's notes

Teacher's notes

16-page A4 teacher's notes written by the series consultant Angela Walsh, with summaries of each episode, follow-up ideas with links to National Curriculum Attainment Targets, suggestions of relevant computer software, and hand-drawn activity sheets.

Pupils' book

Pupils' book

A full-colour softback book for pupils to accompany the series was available to the general public as well as schools, written by Angela Walsh and published by Longman. It was not published in time for the original transmission of the series in spring 1991, but came out in time for the repeat transmission in the autumn term.

There are photographs of children on the covers of both the teacher's notes and the pupils' book, but they are not the children from the programmes.

Sources & References

  • Walsh, Angela (1991) Mathscope teacher's notes spring 1991. London: BBC Educational Publishing. ISBN 0-563-34706-6
  • BBC annual programme guides and termly wallcharts, 1990-1993
  • recordings of all 10 episodes
  1. There was a credit "with thanks to Whittington Park Adventure Playground, Holloway" at the end of episode 10.


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