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Scientists step into the limelight at Edinburgh Fringe

External Sites:
-Too Many Daves web site
-Edinburgh Fringe Festival web site
(Imperial College is not responsible for the content of these external internet sites)

Sketch show confronts dodos, time travel, boobs and Belgians

For Immediate Use
28 July 2003

A group of trained ecologists and evolutionary biologists swap field guides and Wellington boots for stage props and the limelight this week, as their comical sketch show with a big pinch of science makes its debut.

The six professional scientists, who qualified at Imperial College London, take their show 'The Tensile Strength of Cats' to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it plays for nine nights from 1 to 9 August.

The four men and two women of 'Too Many Daves' have trawled their world of laboratories, field experiments and obscure scientific theories for sketch ideas before liquidising them into a comic format for easy consumption.

They compare time-travel to a badly ironed shirt, imagine after-death encounters with Belgians, merge BBC documentaries into one - 'Walking with Extinct Beasts on the Blue Planet in your Back Garden' - and use the UK rail network to explain chaos and the second law of thermodynamics.

Citing influences ranging from Monty Python, 'Beyond The Fringe', The Goodies and Spike Milligan to the Two Ronnies, their 55-minute show combines visual gags, dance, dead pan dialogue and beautifully made costumes in a routine that ranges from the role of cats in particle physics to their explanation of parasitism through a matchless 'Interpretative Dance'.

Five of the six 'Daves' took PhDs at Silwood Park, a research campus of Imperial College London, near Ascot in Berkshire, where two still work. Their name was coined a few years ago when a lot of people called Dave worked together at the Silwood campus.

They came together at Imperial's Department of Biological Sciences and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Centre for Population Biology, a world-renowned ecological research facility that focuses on insect and grassland ecosystems, which is based at Silwood.

"In our spare time we get together and dress up as insects," says Ellen Bazeley-White, performer and 'Daves' co-ordinator. "We've been writing and performing science-based sketches for over five years. Since we were all based at Silwood Park, which is quite an isolated campus, it was really about us making our own entertainment and entertaining the 'troops' here."

The group have performed at local Revue shows, put on a couple of plays and performed musically in the Silwood Festival. However this is the first Edinburgh Fringe Festival appearance for any member of the group, and none has significant previous stage experience.

"I've got very used to standing up in front of lots of people and giving scientific talks, so it doesn't bother me too much," says performer Anthony Flemming. "It bothers me more when I'm trying to be funny and wearing tights."

The performances take place at the Komedia theatre which seats 60 people. The group has already performed to over 120. "We'll get stage nerves, but if they don't like us we won't be bothered," adds writer and performer David Stacey.


For further information, please contact:

Too Many Daves media contact
Ellen Bazeley-White
Mobile: 07971 222 774

Imperial College London Press Office
Tom Miller
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6704
Mobile: +44 (0)7803 886 248

Notes to Editors

The Tensile Strength of Cats
Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2003

LOCATION: Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge, 2 Johnston Terrace, City Centre EH1

DATES: 1-9 August 2003 at 10:20pm. Box office: 0131 226 7207. Fringe Box Office: 0131 226 0000

PRICES: 1 and 2 August UKP4 (Komedia Previews) - 3 and 4 August UKP3 (2 for 1) - 5 to 9 August UKP6/UKP4

Too Many Daves web site:

Cast Biographies

David Wembridge, 34
After a degree in biology at King's College London, David gained a MSc in Human Molecular Genetics at Imperial College (St. Mary's Hospital Medical School, 1993-94) and continued to work at St. Mary's and Hammersmith Hospitals as a research assistant, developing gene therapy techniques. In 1997, he moved to UCL's Centre for Cardiopulmonary Biochemistry as a research fellow before starting a PhD at Silwood Park in 1999 with Austin Burt, looking at evolutionary adaptation in experimental populations of yeast. Currently trying hard to write up while working for Mammals Trust UK (People's Trust for Endangered Species) as Mammal Surveys Co-ordinator.

David Stacey, 27
David took a BSc in Applied Biology at Leeds University, followed by an MSc Pest Management (Applied Entomology) and a PhD titled 'Climate Change and Insect Pests' at Imperial College, Silwood Park. He has been working for an agrochemical company since 2001 as a terrestrial ecologist.

Gavin Broad, 27
Did a degree at Sheffield (Zoology, 1994-1997), then a PhD at Silwood (1997-2001) titled 'Phylogenetic Analysis of Host Utilisation Patterns in Parasitoid Hymenoptera'. He is currently a post doctoral research assistant at Silwood.

Anthony Flemming, 27
Anthony took a BSc Degree in Zoology at Imperial, followed by PhD in Evolutionary Biology titled 'The evolution and development of body size in Caenorhabditis elegans and its relatives' also at Imperial between 1998 and 2001. He now works for a biotechnology company.

Emma Pilgrim, 27
Emma did a BSc in Animal And Plant Biology at University of Leeds between 1994-1997 and a PhD at Silwood titled 'The ecology of rare plants: an experimental study of arable weeds' from 1999 to 2002. Emma now works as a People for Plants Officer for Plantlife, the only British charity dedicated to conserving wild plants.

Ellen Bazeley-White, 28
Ellen took a first in Physics with Environmental Sciences at Royal Holloway College, University of London, 1993 - 1996 before working as an Explainer/Supervisor at a Hands on Science Centre, Bracknell Forest Borough Council. Since 1997 she has been Database Manager and Web Editor for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Centre for Population Biology at Silwood Park. She works on the world's largest compilation of population time series (Global Population Dynamics Database) and manages the data for a European grassland biodiversity project (BIODEPTH). In 2001 she won a BA Media Fellowship and spent time working on the BBC Walking with Beasts web site.

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