The cast and creators of hit US sitcom The Big Bang Theory have set up a scholarship fund worth around $4million (£2.6million), in order to help budding scientists from low-income families get to college.
The show, set in Pasadena, California, is centred around seven main characters, at least three of which are based at the world’s top ranked university, the California Institute of Technology (better known in the show by it’s abbreviation ‘Caltech’). The scholarship fund, however, will be made available to students who are looking to study science, technology, engineering and/or maths at Caltech’s rival, the University of California. One of the show’s stars, Mayim Bialik, who plays Sheldon’s luckless girlfriend Amy, graduated from UCLA in 2007, earning a PhD in neuroscience.
“We have all been given a gift with The Big Bang Theory – a show that’s not only based in the scientific community, but also enthusiastically supported by that same community – this is our opportunity to give back,” said the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre, “In that spirit, our Big Bang family has made a meaningful contribution, and together, we’ll share in the support of these future scholars, scientists and leaders.”
UCLA has said that this scholarship is the first it has ever received from the cast or crew of a television series. According to Warner Bros TV, who are joining scholarship partners, $4million has been raised so far. That figure includes an initial donation from the Chuck Lorre Family Foundation, as well as a combination of donations from people associated with the show, including cast members, executive producers, the crew, and TV companies CBS and WBTV.
There will be an initial intake of 20 students on the scholarship for the 2015-16 academic year, and then five students will be taken on each year after that. The first 20 scholars will be announced on The Big Bang Theory set this autumn.
The Big Bang Theory: Season 8 is available to buy on DVD from 14th September. The show will return on E4 for a ninth season sometime in 2016