Evaluation of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

This evaluation aimed to assess what makes the Christmas Lectures successful and what changes need to be made to attract new audiences, without alienating their existing one. The Christmas Lectures branding includes the prestigious Christmas Lectures broadcast on the BBC, live shows at the Big Bang Fair, a Schools Conference, the Ri Advent Calendar and “I’m a Scientist… get me out of here”.

The Royal Institution (Ri) is an independent charity devoted to connecting people with science. The Christmas Lectures have been held at the Ri in London since 1825 and broadcasted since 1936. They are a Christmas tradition in the UK.

Key recommendations include:

  • Keep the engaging, interactive and high-quality demonstrations – these are a highlight both for those attending the filming, as well as those watching the broadcast.
  • In the Live Lecture format, increase the opportunities for audience participation during the filming, making it possible for more people to play an active role in the lectures.
  • Consider cutting down the lectures into short video clips which can be viewed on social media or YouTube, to better suit the viewing habits of the younger audience.
  • Consider producing an extension of the lecture aimed specifically at adults.

Read the interim and final reports.

The evaluation was funded by the Royal Institution and carried out by Dr Margarida SardoDr Erik StenglerDr Hannah Little and Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers.

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