University professor joins 24-hour drumming challenge for BBC Children in Need

A DRUMMING challenge like no other has been set by BBC Children in Need with help from a Professor at the University of Chichester.

Scientist Marcus Smith has joined the event to support presenters and musicians from some of the world’s biggest bands undertake a 24-hour drumathon in aid of the charity. The lecturer is best known for his pioneering research in how drumming for just an hour a week can have significant benefits for children diagnosed with autism.

As part of the BBC challenge, Prof Smith will help BBC weather presenter Owain Wyn Evans (below) – whose drumming solo of the BBC news bulletin theme song went viral during lockdown – on the 24-hour challenge.

The University academic said: “The magnitude of what Owain is about to undertake cannot be overstated. Not only is there the physical requirement to play the drums for 24-hours but also the cognitive challenge of conducting meaningful interviews and conversations with world leading drummers and guests. For me, that is what makes this challenge so unique. Preparations are going very well and I am confident, given support from the public, that Owain will rise to the challenge.”

BBC weather presenter Owain Wyn Evans

Joining Owain Wyn Evans will be Skunk Anansie and Feeder drummer Mark Richardson (pictured below right), who will act as his mentor, alongside Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden, famed pub landlord and comedian Al Murray, and percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. Starting on BBC Breakfast on Friday 12 November, the challenge will end 24-hours later on the same programme, and streamed on iPlayer.

Weatherman Owain says: “I absolutely love drumming dahlings! Over the years it’s helped me so much, it eases my anxiety and brings me so much joy! That’s why I’ve accepted this mammoth challenge. I want to help change the perception of who can be a drummer, and support all of the amazing charities and groups that BBC Children in Need helps.

“In preparing for the BBC Breakfast Drumathon I’ve learned first hand how BBC Children in Need helps children and young people across the UK from a range of different backgrounds and identities. This is quite literally life-changing and even life-saving stuff. I really hope that together we can raise huge amounts of money for what I think is going to be a monumental challenge. My poor dainty arms!”

Marcus Smith and Mark Richardson

Throughout Owain’s 24 hour Drumathon challenge he will be supported by Prof Smith’s colleagues at the Clem Burke Drumming Project who have researched the impact of drumming on children with autism.

Professor Greg Whyte, from Liverpool John Moores University, will also be providing bespoke sport science support to help him throughout.

He said: “Owain’s Drumathon is a unique challenge and one that has never been done like this before. The complexity is caused by the combination of an arduous physical challenge, coupled with having to maintain rhythm, while staying awake for 24 hours. Anyone who has ever been jet lagged or sleep deprived will know that co-ordination and rhythm is the first thing to go!”

At 6.55pm on Friday 12 November, there will be a special BBC One TV performance where everyone will come together for Owain’s Big Bang and beat whatever they have, from pots and pans, bin lids, buckets or a cardboard box to the same tune. Owain will be joined by an ensemble of 50 drummers who will lead the country in a rousing performance of the BBC News theme.

Further information on BBC Children in Need can be found at and the charity appeal show will be on Friday 19 November.

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