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James May's Man Lab is a British television series presented by former Top Gear presenter James May. The first, three-part series was aired on BBC Two between 31 October and 14 November 2010. The second, five-part series was aired between 25 October and 18 December 2011.[1] Repeats of Series 2 continued on late night BBC One with signing for the deaf throughout January 2012.

James May's Man Lab
Series Two Title Card (2011)
GenrePopular science
Created byJames May
Written byJames May
Henry Dalton
Will Daws
Directed byTom Whitter
Creative director(s)Simeon Oakley
Presented byJames May
Theme music composer"Dr James May BMus"
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series3
No. of episodes13
Executive producer(s)Will Daws
Producer(s)Tom Whitter
Rebecca Magill
Running time60 minutes
DistributorAcorn Media UK
Original networkBBC Two
BBC HD (2010–13)
BBC Two HD (2013-)
Original release31 October 2010 (2010-10-31) –
25 April 2013 (2013-04-25)
External links

Series 3 began broadcasting in March 2013, after James May's other co-hosted TV show (Top Gear) finished Series 19. Series One was released on DVD on 7 November 2011 by Acorn Media UK,[2] followed by Series Two on 8 October 2012.[3]



The series explores traditional skills that are being lost by the modern man, and shows how to stop them from being lost forever. Each episode has a variety of themed tasks, including construction, seduction, destruction and more. If science, geometry, maths, logic and explosives can be used in these tasks, so much the better. Tasks include sending a dead pet's ashes into space using a homemade hydrogen balloon, creating one's own smelting furnace, constructing a pool table, felling a tree using explosives, escaping from Dartmoor prison whilst avoiding detection from expert trackers and making a magnetic ceiling panel to throw your keys at so you don't lose them.

The first series also had a celebrity man task, where a celebrity attempted to beat a personal best at a certain 'man task', such as changing a tyre; however, this aspect was not continued into series two. The theme tune was written by May himself and is often played live over the end credits by a variety of different performers, including barber shop quartet, bagpipes and more.

Series overviewEdit

Series Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 3 31 October 2010 (2010-10-31) 14 November 2010 (2010-11-14)
2 5 25 October 2011 (2011-10-25) 18 December 2011 (2011-12-18)
3 5[4] 28 March 2013 (2013-03-28) 25 April 2013 (2013-04-25)


Series one (2010)Edit

No. in
Guest Director Original air date
11Tom Whitter31 October 2010 (2010-10-31)
James shows how to disarm a WWII bomb, builds a concrete kitchen worktop, teaches the art of seduction in the style of Thomas Campion (1567 – 1620), learns how to polish a boot, builds a large scale model railway, makes a fish finger sandwich and builds a radio control powered picnic table.
22Tom Whitter7 November 2010 (2010-11-07)
James shows how to build your own bar, navigate the seas using the powder of sympathy and a dog, how to duel with percussion pistols, stop running out of toilet paper and build an orchestra composed of grade 1 level musicians.
33Tom Whitter14 November 2010 (2010-11-14)
James shows how to make an old movie and how to build a cinema, how to duel with sabres and how to act on a first date, and showcases the Grade 1 orchestra performance at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Series two (2011)Edit

No. in
Guest Director Original air date
41Tom Whitter25 October 2011 (2011-10-25)[5][6]
James and Oz escape HMP Dartmoor and go orienteering; James builds a pool table, draws a portrait and Rory shows how difficult it is to remember names of party guests.
52Tom Whitter1 November 2011 (2011-11-01)
James reunites Love Fungus, an indie rock band that split up 20 years ago, at the High Voltage Festival; fells a tree to make toilet paper and goes ghost hunting in Lympne Castle, Kent.
Tom Whitter8 November 2011 (2011-11-08)
James casts a lemon squeezer using a home made furnace, teaches how to cheat at playing guitar, launches the ashes of late pets into the stratosphere, and promotes the boiler suit as the only necessary clothing needed by the modern man.
74Tom Whitter15 November 2011 (2011-11-15)
James attempts to prove an Englishman can score a penalty, builds a coracle out of willow, creates a greenhouse in the toilets, and builds a multifunctional "Swiss Army Bike".
85Tom Whitter18 December 2011 (2011-12-18)[6]
James and Oz attempt to make it snow; James shows how to cook Christmas dinner using strict timing and legislation, how to make an exciting Christmas cracker and how to decorate a Christmas tree without using a step ladder.

Series three (2013)Edit

On 9 July 2012, May announced on his Facebook page that filming had started on the third series.[7] In January 2013, May announced via his Twitter that Man Lab was due to air in March, after the next series of Top Gear had finished.[8] The series began at 8pm on 28 March 2013.[9]

No. in
Guest Director Original air date
91Tom Whitter28 March 2013 (2013-03-28)
James creates his very own pizza oven. James and Oz Clarke send side-kick Rory on a wine tasting mission, and James commentates on the 2012 Grand National.
102Tom Whitter4 April 2013 (2013-04-04)
James chases lightning and competes in the rock-paper-scissors world championships. Side-kick Rory is also sent to Wales to mine coal to aid James in making soap, and the team strap cameras on cats in order to improve a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
Judy James and Richard Knight
Tom Whitter11 April 2013 (2013-04-11)
James helps throw buns in Abingdon as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations across Oxfordshire. The Man Lab also builds a revolutionary type of water clock and tests once and for all whether it is possible to make your own luck in Russian beer roulette. In an effort to create an universal language, James travels to Brussels and puts his mimic skills to the test between the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and the famous Manneken Pis.
124TBATom Whitter18 April 2013 (2013-04-18)
The team enhances the office railway with a mail sorter while James organises countless volunteers to help his father find a wedding ring that was lost 40 years ago. In order to give a voice to as many people as possible, the Man Lab crew organises pirate radio station, Man Lab Radio.
135TBATom Whitter25 April 2013 (2013-04-25)
Sidekick Rory Barker is sent to try and run a whelk stall, a monster is made for Skegness, the team make a table football table with two players, so it is a penalty shootout. There is also a device to warn you if your tea gets cold.


James May's Man Lab was broadcast on BBC America in the U.S., where it is periodically rebroadcast. It has also been broadcast in Australia on SBS One. However, SBS stopped showing series three after just two episodes in June 2013.[10] In New Zealand it used to air on TV3 for first 2 seasons. From series 3 it will now air on Prime.[11]

Home mediaEdit

Series One was released on DVD by Acorn Media UK on 7 November 2011.[2] Series Two was released on 8 October 2012.[3]


  1. ^ James May's Man Lab [@jamesmaysmanlab] (17 October 2011). "Started work editing the Christmas Ep. James May and Oz Clarke cook the perfect man Xmas dinner with interesting results!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ a b "James May's Man Lab Series One". Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  3. ^ a b "James May's Man Lab Series Two". Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  4. ^ "James May's Man Lab - Episode guide". Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  5. ^ "Transmission – BBC Top Gear James' Man Lab is back – Tuesday 25 October, 7pm, BBC2. Here's the trailer «". 19 October 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  6. ^ a b "James May's Man Lab Official Site". BBC Online. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  7. ^ "James May update". Facebook. 9 July 2012. Archived from the original on 29 November 2012.
  8. ^ James May [@MrJamesMay] (7 January 2013). "News: Manlab will be shown when the next series of TG has ended. So that could mean March. #CouldAlsoMean2020" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  9. ^ Butcher, Dave. "James May's Man Lab". Radio Times. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  10. ^ "James May Gone". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 May 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit