Biologist Richard Dawkins is to return to Channel 4 in a major series that will celebrate the history of British science.

IWC is in the early stages of production on The Genius of Britain, a 5 x 60-minute series in which several high-profile academics and scientists will tell the story of British scientific achievements and champion legendary scientists from Isaac Newton to the microscope created by Robert Hooke to see deeper into the human body.

Dawkins recently presented IWC's C4 series The Genius of Charles Darwin, which last week was crowned Best Documentary Series at the Broadcast Awards. He has also presented C4 polemical series The Root of All Evil? and The Enemies of Reason.

The latest series, commissioned by C4 science commissioning editor David Glover, is also set to feature Professor Stephen Hawking, most recently seen on C4 in the two-part series Stephen Hawking: Master of the Universe. The remaining editions will feature Sir James Dyson, Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse and physicist Jim Al-Khalili.

“There's an increasing sense that we may face a crisis in British science as funding comes under pressure and science subjects drop off the curriculum,” said C4 head of specialist factual Ralph Lee. “There's no better time to celebrate the extraordinary number of major breakthroughs that have come from Britain and to allow today's cutting edge scientists and engineers to tell us the stories that inspired them.”

Rachel Bell will executive produce for IWC, with Emma Whitlock as series editor and Christopher Sykes and Tim Usborne as directors.

C4 head of programmes Julian Bellamy unveiled the series at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch today.

Details of the series come as BBC2 reveals plans for The History of Science, in which Michael Mosley will look at everything from genetics to quantum physics.

The show is scheduled to air in 2010 alongside five-part series Seven Wonders of the World, which will feature CGI recreations of scientific wonders such as the liquid methane sea of Titan.

BBC2 is also lining up a 4 x 60-minute science series for this spring in which Professor Lesley Regan will assess the marketing of products found in medicine cabinets, diet clinics, health spas and nurseries.