Brian May may replace Patrick Moore

Dr. Brian May. No, this photo wasn’t posed.

Let’s talk about something that doesn’t come up often enough on this blog: astronomy. Why am I asking this? Because of the fact that Sir Patrick Moore, the longest-running television presenter in history, passed on on December 9. He was 89, and there was much mourning, and, the occasional dodgy political move aside, it looks like he’ll remain respected from now on. Moore presented the show The Sky At Night once a month for every month since April 1957 until his final episode airs next month. The only time he failed to do so was in July 2004, when he missed due to ill health.

But it doesn’t look like the Beeb’s going to let a little thing like their star’s death stop the show; in fact, some astronomers are already hyping up the man they want to replace him: Queen’s Brian May. While at first glance, this may seem odd, it should be noted that May has long been interested in astronomy. In fact, he was studying for a doctorate until Queen became famous, and, in 2007, he picked up where he left off and gained the long-awaited doctorate. Even when his music career was in full swing, he wrote a song about time dilation for Queen’s “Night at the Opera” album, called “’39.” In the last few years of Moore’s run on the show, May was even an occasional guest.

Professor David Southwood, president of the Royal Astronomical Society said: “Both of them have a terrific gift for communication… Brian is an enthusiast for astronomy. You’ve got to have a pretty strong personality to replace someone who had such a strong identity, like Patrick.”

Dr Richard Miles, former president of the British Astronomical Association, said May would “grow into the job if he was given a free hand”.

Of course, neither the BBC nor Brian May have named a successor for Patrick Moore.

In more music-related news: Brian May has recently confirmed that the biopic of Freddie Mercury starring Sacha Baron Cohen is already well underway.

Brian May says: “The pieces are all falling into place, though we are now on a slightly later schedule – filming is now scheduled to start in the Spring, with Sacha Baron Cohen playing Freddie. The film should be ready for release early in 2014. We did make some other plans, but they will have to stay under wraps for now. Being in Queen is – bizarrely – as full of surprising twists and turns as ever – 40 years since we first got together, and 20 years after losing Freddie. But of course Freddie is in so many ways very much alive. He must be wryly smiling somewhere!!!”

The Freddie Mercury biopic is being scripted by Peter Morgan, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter behind The Queen and Frost/Nixon. The film is currently in development, with input from Queen stars Brian May and Roger Taylor.

And, because you may want to know some more about music and Patrick Moore, here’s Patrick Moore doing his other passion: the xylophone.