Jeremy Purser finds It’s Wizard

13-year-old Jeremy Purser ask the science questions on It’s Wizard

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From the TVTimes for week commencing 29 May 1960

UNTIL a few weeks ago, science held little attraction for 13-year-old Jeremy Purser. But since he was chosen to ask the questions in It’s Wizard he has become more fascinated than he believed possible.

Says Jeremy: “I prefer the experiments we do in the studio to the ones we do in the school laboratory, even though they are equally interesting.

“The difference is that at school we have to draw complicated diagrams and write up notes afterwards, and that rather takes the enjoyment out of it.

Jeremy, son of a catering firm executive, ruefully confesses that though he came seventh in his form examinations, he was 24th in science. There are 36 in his form.

His science master, Mr K. H. Waterman, reports however that Jeremy does quite well in science and asks many questions during class. “Appearing on television has increased his curiosity for general knowledge in every field,” he told me.

Jeremy Purser

Some experiments that Jeremy has been doing in the studio with magician Billy McComb have been covered in class. “But on the whole they are quite new to me, and it’s fun finding what happens and why,” said Jeremy.

The work he has done at school has provided a basic knowledge of the preparation and properties of hydrogen gas. How it is made and what it is used for … making oil into fat and margarine, making ammonia, and in oxygen hydrogen-welding.

In the “explosive” type of experiment, Jeremy and his form mates have prepared hydrogen gas by adding zinc to acid. The gas is put in a test tube and exploded by heating over a Bunsen burner. The exercise proves that hydrogen burns explosively when mixed with air.

One of the more spectacular experiments Jeremy has done in the school laboratory was the burning of magnesium in a jar of oxygen. This produces a blinding, dazzling flame.

Says Mr Waterman: “The boys have covered only the first stages in chemistry so far. The early work is designed to show them the use of laboratory techniques and apparatus.”

But in the studio Jeremy has already come into contact with the exciting world of space travel. This happened when McComb showed him how anything burned in liquid oxygen burns stronger, faster and brighter than it would in ordinary air — one of the principles used by scientists on rocket research.

To illustrate the point, McComb dropped a white hot ball of steel wool into a bowl of liquid oxygen.

Jeremy also took part in an experiment which simulated the eerie silence of outer space.

McComb showed this by extracting the air from a jar containing a bell. When the bell was rung it could not be heard, proving that sound needs a solid — air for instance — to enable it to travel.

In the programme dealing with balance and equilibrium, Jeremy discovered that a half-crown could be balanced edgewise on the point of a needle.

A man holds his hose while a boy studies
Billy McComb and Jeremy experiment with steam

Says Jeremy: “I would like to do some experiments at home, but I have never got around to it. I haven’t got a chemistry set, but I sometimes help my friends to do experiments when I visit them.”

Away from the studio – and school — Jeremy is an outdoor boy. He sometimes lends a hand in the garden of the Pursers’ new detached house at Wilmslow, Cheshire. Said his mother, Mrs Marjory Purser: “He likes to be out of doors whenever possible.

“He’s a Boy Scout and at the moment is concentrating on getting his First Class badge. During the summer holidays he’ll be going camping in the Lake District.

“In the school holidays he plays in the woods and goes swimming with his friends. He is fond of animals and often takes our cocker spaniel, Sonny, for a walk.”

Jeremy is a keen amateur photographer and was delighted when, at school, he had to make a pin-hole camera.

“It’s a simple camera,” says Mr Waterman, “made from a cardboard tube, black paint, greaseproof paper and a pin.

“This was an exercise we did in connection with the study of light.”

Is Jeremy sufficiently interested in science to make it his career?

He said: “I am certainly interested in the subject, much more than I was before I appeared in the show, but I don’t think I could make a go of science as a career. I haven’t really made up my mind about it yet.”

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