Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


Operation Ouch! University takes part in new CBBC series

11 December 2012

Operation OuchDr Kelly BéruBé and CBBC presenter Dr Chris van Tulleken at the School of Biosciences

Dr Kelly BéruBé from the School of Biosciences has taken part in a brand new medical series for CBBC called Operation Ouch!

The episode entitled When snot is green and when it’s snot will air on Wednesday 19th December on the CBBC Channel.

This new series, fronted by identical twins Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken, is designed to communicate incredible facts about the human body to younger viewers.

The format of the show sees the presenters experiment and explore their way through the world of medicine and biology, showing and explaining the remarkable things our bodies can do.

Operation OuchDr BéruBé examines phlegm with Dr Chris van Tulleken

In Episode 12, When snot is green and when it’s snot, Dr Chris van Tulleken visits Dr Kelly BéruBé at the School of Biosciences to learn about the necessary reality of mucous and phlegm including protection against viral, bacterial and fungal germs.

‘Mucus has been likened to the oil in a car engine and without it, the engine seizes,’ says Dr Kelly BéruBé, Director of the Lung & Particle Research Group.

Mucus-producing membranes line the mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts, visual and auditory systems and acts as a protective blanket for these epithelial surfaces.

‘If you don’t keep these tissues humidified and lubricated you will have a chink in your bodies’ armour, because these tissues will dry out, become cracked and allow germs to enter your system,’ says Dr BéruBé.  ‘Our airways need to be maintained as a sterile environment, and the viscous mucous stops unwanted debris from entering the lower regions of the lung.’

During the episode Dr BéruBé shows Dr Chris van Tulleken that by examining the colour, texture, viscosity and debris trapped in his phlegm, it is possible to determine his health status, whether he lives in the city or countryside and even if he eats chocolate or dairy.  Dr BéruBé takes phlegm from his lungs and prepares microscope samples to show him how to make a diagnosis of respiratory diseases and prediction of a person’s occupation and lifestyle.

They also look at what happens when we get a common cold.   ‘When you have a cold, your immune system sends white blood cells called neutrophils rushing to the area.  These cells contain a greenish-coloured enzyme and in large numbers they can turn the mucus green,’ explains Dr BéruBé.

The episode is designed to teach children that all the human tissues and organs that are exposed to the environment (i.e. respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital, reproductive, auditory and visual systems) need to be protected from viral, bacterial, and fungal germs.

Operation OuchOperation Ouch! presenters Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken

‘In Operation Ouch, we have tried to make the show we'd have enjoyed when we were 10 years old! We went into filming thinking we could easily explain how the body works but have ended up discovering much more about it ourselves,’ said presenter Dr Xand van Tulleken.

You can watch Dr Kelly BéruBé on Wednesday 19th December at 5.45pm on the CBBC Channel.

Related Links

School of Biosciences

Operation Ouch!