Professor Philip Jones: who is scientist played by Jason Watkins in BBC’s The Trick, and what was Climategate?

The Trick will air on BBC on Monday 18 October and will be based on the events of the ‘Climategate’ scandal of 2009

BBC One will air new TV feature The Trick, starring Jason Watkins, on Monday (18 October).

But what is the true story behind the programme, who is Professor Philip Jones and what was the Climategate scandal?

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Who is Professor Philip Jones?

Professor Philip Jones is a world-renowned scientist who specialises in climate change.

He is the former Director of Climatic Research at the University of East Anglia, which is the post he held prior to ‘Climategate’, which saw him being targeted in a co-ordinated hack that saw thousands of emails stolen and used by climate change deniers.

The Trick, set in the late Noughties, focuses on Phil Jones and his wife Ruth - played by Jason Watkins and Victoria Hamilton respectively - whose lives are rocked when the professor’s work on climate change becomes the focus of a media scandal.

What was the Climategate scandal?

The ‘Climategate’ scandal of 2009 took place in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate talk summit in December of that year.

The University of East Anglia’s climate research team was hacked, with thousands of emails and related documents stolen.

A small number of emails that seemed to suggest the scientists had exaggerated the threat of climate change were then later published by climate change deniers.

Although the group of scientists, including Phil Jones, had not exaggerated the threat, the scandal still made headlines around the world.

The Trick will show real-life news footage reporting on ‘Climategate’.

What will The Trick be about?

The Trick is a conspiracy thriller based on the events of the ‘Climategate’ scandal in 2009.

The BBC website information for The Trick says: “Professor Phil Jones and his team of climatologists at the University of East Anglia find that their work has been hacked by climate change deniers and turned into the first big fake-news story.

“The deniers and corporations with vested interests skillfully create the image of climate change as a conspiracy being perpetrated by academic scientists.

“Although an inquiry concludes that there was no case for Jones and his team to answer, it has taken a decade for the public perception of the veracity of climate change to recover.”

The official BBC synopsis says: “With time running out against an unseen enemy, The Trick looks at the potentially devastating consequences to humanity from climate change denial – how a media storm undermined public confidence in the science and how the concept of ‘truth’ took a back seat causing us to lose a decade of action.”

It continues: “The film also charts the unjustified persecution of Phil Jones, his wife Ruth’s support of her husband and the fight for the ultimate exoneration of himself and the science.”

The Trick airs on BBC One at 8.30pm on Monday 18 October.