Made by Screenhouse Productions, it was first aired on the ITV regional network Yorkshire Television in 1991. In the show, Adam Hart-Davis, dressed in pink and yellow cycling clothes, rode around the YTV region (including Yorkshire, Norfolk and Lincolnshire) on a pink and yellow bicycle, stopping in a particular area to tell the stories of scientists that lived or were born there. These stories were embellished by experiments, performed on the street by Hart-Davis, generally using bits of wood and Lego from a trailer on his bike.
This hobo-meets-Johnny Ball style approach to science-education proved appealing, and after two series, the show was sold to the national BBC2 network in 1994. The move saw two changes: the scope of the show was expanded nationwide, with a different region visited each episode; and the theme tune was changed from No More Heroes by The Stranglers to a twee and plinky number, more in keeping with the programme genre.
Since then, the series has covered over 200 'heroes', and has seen three special episodes. The first special saw Hart-Davis visit Greece to investigate ancient heroes, while the second took him to Italy for a Renaissance special. The third special was held in a lecture theatre and was presented much in the style of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.