A Brilliant Young Mind (2014) Script


NATHAN: I find any communication of a non-mathematical nature very difficult.

Because I don't talk much, people think I don't have anything to say, or that I'm stupid.

And that's not true.

I have lots of things to say.

I'm just afraid to say them.

I know that I'm strange in lots of ways.

I think I see the world in a different way to other people.

I've always been like that.


Would you like to play with it?

Are you scared it will eat you?


Is it because it's a toy?

No. Because stegosauruses aren't carnivores.

So, Nathan, what do you like?

I imagine there's things that you don't like.

Maybe, say, when meal times change?

Yes. Yes, he is fussy about his food.



I... I like patterns.

DOCTOR: And what does it feel like to see a good pattern?


YOUNG NATHAN: They're pretty colours.

DOCTOR: So, it's positive. Nathan is certainly on the spectrum.

Traits of autism combined with synaesthesia, sensitive to a change in light and pattern.

These can be gifts, of course, but they do come with some big challenges, socially and emotionally, which will stay with Nathan all of his life.

But there is no question; That he's a unique young man.


MICHAEL: Give Mum a wave. Bye, Mum.




You know what I was thinking?

You know, sometimes it might seem like we don't always understand what it's like to be you.

It's like you've got these special powers, like a wizard.

And we're just Muggles that don't understand how you do it.

It's like a different language to us.

But even though we don't always understand each other, Nath, it doesn't mean that any of us ever stops loving each other.

Does that make sense?

Nathan, look at me.

But you shouldn't be afraid.



♪ Sweetheart

♪ What have you done to us?

♪ I turned my back and you turned to dust

♪ What have you done?

♪ And, Oh, please

♪ Just come here, don't fight with me

♪ And I admit

♪ Think you may have broken It

♪ Yeah, I admit ♪


(SOFTLY) Come here, darling. Come here.

Just hold my hand.

Please, Nathan. Nathan, just hold my hand. Just this once.

It's okay. We'll do this together.

Come here, darling. Darling, come on.

Nathan. Please, don't. No, Nathan!




That looks complicated.

That's not schoolwork then?

Wait, why don't you try and explain it to me?

I might be able to help you.


You can't.

Why not?

You're not clever enough.

So, Nathan, this is the big school.

When you're older, you'll go here every single day.

Watch out.

We're just gonna start things early.

It's nothing to be frightened about.


Don't run in the corridor.


Excuse me.

Excuse me!



(door OPENS)

Oh, that's subtle.

Ah, really subtle. What? We're not... We're not doing anything.

"(MOCKING) “We're not... We're not... We're not doing anything."

Give me that now!


Is this drugs?

Go on, piss off.

BOY: (SARCASTICALLY) We're so lucky.


Mr Humphreys. Yep.

Can I have a quick word? Yeah.

How old are you? Five?

No, Nathan is nine.

His mum got in touch because of Nathan's rather advanced interest in numbers and patterns and his primary schoolwork was no longer testing.

Mmm, I can see why, yeah. Bit of algebra.

Mmm, distance geometry.

Where'd you learn all this, mate?

Mr Humphreys just joined our maths department.

He was a bit of a maths whizz when he was young, Nathan.

Not really, it was a long time ago. No, no, no.

He competed in the International Mathematical Olympiad.

Olympiad? Olympiad, yes. The IMO.

Did you know you could win medals for maths, Nathan?

Just like sport, only for people who are really, really strong up here instead.

Mrs Ellis, if Mr Humphreys is willing I think that we can absolutely begin offering Nathan some special advanced tuition.

Can't we?

Okay, yeah.

Why don't you walk properly?

That's very direct of you.

I've got multiple sclerosis.

What about you?

Why are you weird?

I've got special powers. Mmm-hmm.

Can you fly?

Can you turn things to ice?

Are you really good at maths?

Ah, yeah. Ah, fair play.

Well, listen, I should tell you, I'm not a very good teacher.

I barely encourage myself to get out of bed, let alone inspire some kid with special powers who wants to spend all his spare time doing maths.

So as long as we're clear.

What's that for?

It's to give it a shake. It's my hand, isn't it?

It's what men do when they agree. I don't like doing that.

Yeah, well, we all have to do things we don't like doing, but we fucking do them, don't we? So give it here.

What does "fucking" mean?

All in good time, son.

Right then.

We'll start with some probability, shall we?

Like what's the probability of me remembering any of this shit.

YOUNG NATHAN: I can't hear you.

I said, let's do tree diagrams, shall we?

Mr Humphreys?

Yes, Mr Ellis.

What was the Olympiad like?

Mind your own business, nosy.


Do you know what this means?

Go on, Sir Nod-A-Lot, tell me, what does it mean?

A toss.


How dare you?

Yeah, the coin toss. Well done.

YOUNG NATHAN: "The International Mathematical Olympiad"

"is the most prestigious mathematical competition for high school students.“".

WOMAN: Round of applause for United Kingdom!

YOUNG NATHAN: "It represents a great opportunity to see how they measure up"

"against students from the rest of the world."

"China hold the record for 11 IMOs in which they have secured gold medals"

"for all six members of their team."

(in SILLY VOICE) Number theory.

YOUNG NATHAN: "The hardest problem ever at the IMO was question five in 1996."

'Let A, B, C, D, E, F be a convex hexagon

"such that AB is parallel to DE,"

"BC is parallel to EF"

"and CD is parallel to FA."

Nathan! Breakfast!

YOUNG NATHAN: "Let RA, RC, RE denote the circum radii"

"of triangles FAB, BCD, DEF respectively."

Nathan! Breakfast!

"And let P denote the perimeter of the hexagon."

Nathan! Breakfast!

NATHAN: "Prove that RA plus RC plus RE"

"is greater than or equal to P over 2."


It doesn't matter if you don't get in. Of course it matters.

Got twisted. Okay? Good.

Good luck.

GIRL 1: Get a job. GIRL 2: You get a job.

GIRL 1: I'm trying. I've handed CVs out. GIRL 2: You've got a CV?

GIRL I: Yeah, obviously. I don't wanna sit on me arse all day, you know.

And even If I do, you're sat next to me. GIRL 2: No, I'm not.

GIRL I: Yeah, you are. Joined at the friggin' hip.

Are you listening to our conversation? Eh?

No. What?

No, I wasn't. Are you sure about that?

Better not be. GIRL 2: No.

You're late. Sorry, mate.

I had a quick look at it first. Shh.

It's a piece of piss, really.

Well, not really, but...

You know, just do your best.

It's the biggest day of your life, mate, innit?

Don't feel any pressure.

I'm a bit nervous. (CHUCKLES)

Are you nervous?

A little bit. Well, you shouldn't be.

Because you're brilliant.

Are you ready?



On your marks, get set...

Go on, my son.

I'll just be over there, out the way.

NATHAN: "Question one."

"Are there infinitely many pairs of positive integers (m, n) such..."



NATHAN: "Question one."

"Are there infinitely many pairs of positive integers (m, n)"

"such that both m divides n squared plus one and..."

(can HISSES)

NATHAN: "Are there infinitely many pairs of positive integers (m, n)"

"such that both m divides n squared plus one and that n divides m squared plus one?"

When will we find out?

Uh, about a week, probably.

It's all right, male. Relax to the max. Take a chill pill.

Talking of which, this hill's a killer.

Do you mind if we take the weight off?

NATHAN: Can I ask you a question? MARTIN: Hang on.

(GRUNTS) Go on then, hit me.

Hit you? Ask me the fucking question!

Why did things go wrong for you, at the Olympiad?

There's lots of reasons, really.

My "thing" was kicking off around that time.

My ailment.

Cutting me down in the prime of my life.

I just sort of lost it.

I can't lose it.

Nathan, you haven't gotta prove anything, all right?

What's important is that you enjoy doing it, maths, and you do, don't you?

So whether you get on the team or not, you're gonna do amazing things in the future.

You haven't.

Well, thanks a lot.

You charming little bastard.

Hi. Hi.

Um, can I order number 47, please, with, um, seven prawn balls and a small chips, thank you.


It come with six balls, number 47.

Yeah, I know. Usually...

Sorry, are you new?

It's just we come here all the time and it's usually just fine, you give us an extra ball.

Number 48 is a large prawn ball meal.

You get nine balls, large chips and crackers.

Yeah, I know.

No. Sorry.


No, he doesn't like, um, crackers and he likes to have a small chips.

I'm sorry, it's just, uh...

My son, he's quite picky and he needs the meal number to be a prime number and there to be a prime number of prawn balls.

And, um, if he had nine balls it wouldn't be a prime number and number 48 isn't...

Isn't... Isn't a prime...

Is it? Is it? I don't know. Yes, I do.

Um, yes, no, I'm right.


Is that okay? Yeah.


There we go. A big fat "well done".

It's all spilt out.


No, no, it's fine. Nathan, Nathan, don't get upset. It's fine.

No, Mum, it's not fine. It's fine.

You don't do anything right. I'm sorry?

Everything you do is wrong.

Oh... (YELLS) Oh, well, I'm sorry, okay?

Thank you so much!


MICHAEL: That doctor didn't know his herbivores from his carnivores, did he?

And do you know why?

Because he's not as smart as you.

Is there someone else you know that has what you have?

Einstein. (CHUCKLES)



I just want you to know that you're fine the way you are, Nathan.

So do you want one of them ice cream things for dessert or what?

Dad! What?

Oh, no! Not again. Ah!

What do I do? Do I lean forward? No, back!

Back? Oh, no, this is a disaster.

I know. I know. Give me this. (GIGGLING)




As promised, I come bearing news.

Are you sure it's okay if I stand out here? I don't wanna put you out.

Yeah. Invite me in, Nathan.

Come in. Thank you very much.

Put the kettle on, then.

Put the kettle on what? JULIE: It's okay. I'll do it.

Hi, Julie. Hi, Mr Humphreys.

How are you? Very good, thank you.

Thanks for coming round. I got it.

Oh! Oh, my goodness. Is that what I think it is?

I hope so, otherwise it would have been a wasted journey.


Um, you open it.

You want me to open it? All right then. Yeah.

“Dear Mr Ellis, I am writing to let you know that unfortunately...

"“...you have successfully earned a place on the United Kingdom maths squad!"

Oh, my goodness! Oh, Nathan, darling.

Well, that's good news, isn't it? Oh, my gosh!

Well done, mate. JULIE: Oh, well done.

Why is that unfortunate?

No, I was having a joke, mate.

It says the training camp's in Taiwan this year.

Have you ever been on a plane before? No. He's not.

Well, that's exciting, isn't it? Um...


I should study.

Are you leaving now, or... Nathan. (LAUGHS)

He doesn't mean that.

Probably, yeah.

Okay. Well...

I'm gonna go and study. JULIE: Okay.

Well done, mate.

He is pleased. He's... I know he is, yeah.

I'm gonna have something stronger than a cup of tea, actually, I think.

I'm gonna have a glass of wine. Okay.

Would you like...

I should probably shoot off.

Okay, no, that's fine.

But I mean, if you're gonna have one.

Actually, I was thinking maybe, you know you'd like to...

To join us next month, take him to the airport.

I know that would make Nathan happy.


I should probably tell you before they...

I'm taking a bit of a break from work.

Uh, it's a bit of a forced break.

It's a bit like I'm being fired, basically.

I'm sorry.

But I wanted to say to you even though I'm not working for the school any more, I'd really like to carry on teaching Nathan.

Really? Yeah. I mean, if that's all right with you?

That would be amazing. Obviously for no money.

Oh! Jesus Christ!


Oh, my God!

That's a bit of a weird one.

Thanks for the drink and stuff. Not at all.

Don't worry about it. All right. Yeah, no, good.

Will you be all right? Okay. Yeah. Cheers, Julie. Thank you.

Thank you. Take care. All right.

We were just talking, Nathan.

I was looking at Jupiter.

I didn't do it on purpose.

It was just...

It was just nice, you know, to have someone to talk to.

For once. For me.

Sometimes I feel a bit alone.


MICHAEL: What else can we write? Numbers? Say a prime number.

Quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly. 353.




Just in time.

Perfect timing.

JULIE: Fireworks night again, is it?


He's letting you hold his hand, isn't he?

The sparkler helps.

Come on, Nathan.

It's time to change the fish.

If you come now you can get an extra scoop of ice cream.

Extra scoop of Ice cream. And what do I get?

You don't get anything. Go ahead, go ahead.

You're lucky I'm here, that's all. {MICHAEL LAUGHS)

MICHAEL: I'm lucky.“ Yeah, you get me.

I like a man in a shed. Ah...

Go and get me ice cream. But you're not getting...

I told you, you're not getting...

Ice cream, Julie! (GIGGLES)





Nathan, It's okay.

Nathan, I'm not angry.


Michael? Michael?

JULIE: Everything all right? NATHAN: Yeah.

I'm quite looking FORWARD to this in a weird sort of way.

JULIE: Yeah, I know.

Little trip down memory lane.

JULIE: Okay. We all ready? Hang on.

This is for you.

JULIE: Nathan...

What do you say?

Thank you. Well, I used to use them, so they're probably cursed.

But, you know, it might remind you of home or something.

JULIE: Very lovely of you. MARTIN: Right then.

Shall we get this show on the road? JULIE: Yep. Let's go.


Can you get in the back with me?

Nathan, I think Mr Humphreys will be more comfortable in the front.

It's okay, darling.

Darling, darling, it's okay.

I'll drive carefully.

No, It's all right.

I'm actually surprisingly bendy.

MARTIN: Christ.

It's Tricky Dicky. Look out.

All right, Richard?


Martin Humphreys. '95.

Humphreys! Yeah, hell's teeth. Yes.

Yes. The last I heard, you were, um...

Teaching, was it? Yes.

Yeah. At what university? I can't...

It's a secondary school. Ah, yeah.

Wasted opportunity, this one.

So what are you doing here? You flying off to Ibiza?

Fleeing the world of reason and rationality for some hallucinogenic escape?

No, I'm dropping this one off, actually.


Nathan Ellis, I presume. Yes.

The dragon. Ah!

And where have you been lying dormant, eh?

It's not often we have a mind like yours spring up off the radar.

He's mine.

I mean, I'm his... Um, I've been teaching him.

Ah. The plot thickens.

Well, we'll get you signed in, shall we, eh?

Just a quick goodbye and then avanti.

Oh, well, Nathan, darling. (CHUCKLES)


You got your phone on you? Yeah?


Make sure you ring me as soon as you land, yeah?

All right. Bye, then. Bye.


RICHARD: Time to meet your peers, Nathan.


Mingle. Mingle.

Um, watch your step, there's a chess game going on.

Hey. How do you do?

How do I do what?

I mean, what's your name?

Nathan. I'm Isaac.

I'm guessing this is your first maths camp? You'll be fine.

Best thing is just to dive in.

Come. Sit down.

I mean, can you believe the Chinese team?

They won six golds again last year.

Yes, although upon recent evidential proof I'd expect this to possibly change, if I'm allowed to split infinitives, to possibly change.

Which I believe I technically am now.

Of course, one of the most famous infinitive splits of all time came in the introductory lines of Star Trek, "to boldly go," and...

I think if the writers of a popular American television series can get away with it for 40 years, then, really, any of us can.

Don't worry, he's always like this.

Everyone, this is Nathan.

Hi, Nathan. Hello, Nathan.

Hi, I'm Pav.


P-A-V, Pav.

Pav is from India. Pav.

Actually I'm from Chipping Norton.

Yes, but of course I meant your origins, not your birthplace, before we open that little Pandora's box.

Oh, dear! (ALL CHUCKLE)

RICHARD: Seat belts on, please. Seat belts on.

Right, don't sit at the front next to the driver, that's my seat.

Right, away you go, driver.

Now, you are 16 of the cleverest young brains in this country.

Now, outside you might be considered nerds or geeks or whatever the insult du jour might be.

But here, you are among kindred spirits.

Now, assuming you're capable of basic arithmetic, you'll know that there are six places available yet more than six of you.

Which means that this, to a large extent, is about whittling you down.

Now, we will be training with four other national teams in Taiwan.

And after some delicate diplomatic negotiation, I can confirm that the Chinese will be one of them.

Now we should, of course, be cordial as it falls to us to host the competition this year, in Cambridge.

But that doesn't mean we can't be ruthless.

Now, I want you up there with the Chinese, top of the table.

And I will consider it an abhorrent failure to include a candidate who does not win a medal.

Be under no illusion. This is all about winning.

Although that doesn't mean it can't be fun.

NATHAN: 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610.

REBECCA: 987, 1,597, 2,584.

I like the Fibonacci sequence, too.

Invaluable for music compositions.

So you're new.

Fresh meat.

How's that going?

Okay, so you're the shy type.

Makes a nice change, to be honest.

Most of these weirdos just wanna show off about how much maths junk they know.



It's just I'm usually the weird one.

They do all seem good at maths, though.


Here you are neither weird nor the best mathematician, I'm afraid.

You are painstakingly average.

LUKE: Post-Olympiad of course, I'll need to branch out into modem theoretical physics if I'm going to describe a unified field theory for the four fundamental forces of nature.

Are you one of the fundamental forces of nature, Luke?


But you are terribly gifted, aren't you?

Yes. Gifted but not arrogant, Isaac.

Here we are. Maths camp, Taipei.

Your home for the next two weeks.

Right, everybody out.

Don't forget your umbrellas.

There's a typhoon coming.

Hello. Hello. Welcome to Taiwan.

Nice to meet you. Hello. I'm Richard.

My name is Jason.

Nice to meet you, Jaigen.

Jason. Yeah. Jason. I'm sorry.

Jason. It was the accent.

Hello. Nice to meet you.

Right, come on, get your bags. Chop-chop.

Can someone help the man, please?

It's not the days of the Empire. Thank you.



Here comes the typhoon!

Batten down the hatches.


Currently below us in the rankings, but they're our hosts, so we should be gracious.

Here's the real competition.

(WHISPERS) The Chinese.

BEN: Guys, check out the board.

Is she messing around with the Goldbach Conjecture?

BEN: Maybe it's what they do for fun.

Mmm, I love cracking unprovable theorems in my free time.

No one has proven that it's unprovable.

Right, come on. They won't bite.

Ah! The enemy!

Surrender or die!

Deng Laoshi.

Dear Richard, welcome.

Such an honour to have you here. Thank you.

Ni hao. ALL: Ni hao.

Students, hello.


I hope you are ready for some mathematics.


Now, pay attention, Team UK.

Deng Laoshi and I have decided to pair you up with a Chinese buddy and you should make the most of this opportunity, or, more to the point, you should spy on your Chinese counterpart and bring their trade secrets to Blighty.

DENG: Very funny, Richard.

Uh, Luke Shelton.

DENG: Zhang Zhi.

Hello. My name is Zhang Zhi.


Nathan Ellis.

DENG: Zhang Mei.

Nice to meet you. My name is Zhang Mei.

RICHARD: Pavinder Kamdar.

This is Shao Tong.

Nice to meet you. Ni hao.

And you know my uncle.

Nathan. The lucky one learning from my niece, huh?


We have high expectations for her.

And for you, of course.

High expectations all round, I say.

Zhang Mei.


Yes, of course, though it may be the world's fastest developing nation some of the cuisine doesn't seem to have advanced quite so quickly.

DENG: Careful. Careful. RICHARD: Oh, look at this.

Thank you. Uh, zhi Zhia... Xie xie. Xie xie.

RICHARD: You put this in there? MEI: You put the raw food in this.

In the peanut sauce? MEI: Oh...

No. RICHARD: Okay, okay, I'll do that.

You don't use them... Like that.

Hold it like this and pinch it like a lobster.


So, Nathan, what was your score on the mock IMO paper?

Zhang Mei got the full seven marks on questions one to three.

Though her combinatorics is her weakest area.

I'm really not... Not that good.

No, but you soon will be.

Nathan, are you okay?




Almost everyone on the camp speaks English.

It is expected of us.

You speak it very well.

(CHUCKLES) Thank you.

So do you.

Chinese, I mean.

You don't say a lot in English at all.

This room seems reasonably symmetrical.

Apart from the window.

I don't know about you, but I don't appreciate this forced proximity to each other.

I'll take this side.

I'm going to the bathroom.



Oh, you dirty little bastard.

Go on, then.

Oh, my God, that is absolutely disgusting.

Boom! Wanker.



Yes. Who's this? It's...

Nathan? Is that you?

How are you doing? How's it going out there?

Everything's different and everyone's cleverer than me.

Look, Nathan, it's your first night away and...

And first nights away are always really, really shit.

I mean, it's only a fortnight, innit?

That's 14 days. And what's 14?

A positive integer. Positive integer.

So think positively.

Which is the square root of?


Whose prime factorisation is?

Two squared by seven squared.


(door OPENS)

MICHAEL: ♪ One, two, buckle my shoe

♪ Three, four.

♪ Knock on my door.

♪ Five, six, pick up your sticks

♪ Seven, eight, lay them straight

♪ One, two.

♪ Buckle my shoe

♪ Three, four... ♪


Strong squad this year?

Testing my team for weaknesses, Richard?

You should relax more, not take it so seriously.

It's all right for you, you got the best in the world to choose from.

But having your niece on the team, Deng?

I mean, really?

You'll see.

ISAAC: Luke, I don't care.

Civilizations have used 10, not l2, digits to count for millennia.

Yes, for purely primitive reasons, and the fact that we have ten digits on our hands.

My argument is that if we use base 12 it is an infinitely superior system, and more logical.

It takes 12 months for the Earth to orbit the sun, there are 12 hours a night and 12 hours a day, and each of those hours there are 12 five-minute increments.

And what do you think, Nathan?

You a member of the dozenalist society?

Uh, I don't know.


People disagreeing with my opinion is one thing, but no opinion?

You might as well not be here.

DENG: The vertices of a regular 72-gon.

DENG: The vertices of a regular 72-gon are each coloured red, green or blue in equal amounts.

Show that we can always choose four red, four green or four blue vertices such that each monochromatic set form a congruent quadrilateral.

Yes, so, of course, the whole question can be trivialised by Ramsey Theory.

No, sorry, Luke. There were other hands up before you.

Well, I've already answered it now.

Really? You think so?

Is anyone here convinced by Luke's answer?

"It's interesting you ask "is anyone convinced?" rather than "is anyone not convinced?"

I'm not convinced. I'm not convinced.

Nathan, would you join in, please?

This isn't a holiday.

Do you have a proof to share?

That's a disappointment.


Muirhead's inequality and Schur's inequality?


It's interesting stuff, Nathan, but you do over-complicate everything.

Things can be much simpler than they initially appear.

Did Mr Humphreys not tell you that?

Mind you, he never did quite live up to his potential, that one.

It's because his illness was getting worse.

His Illness?

Is he still using that excuse?

Stephen Hawking has done all right on far worse.

No, I'm afraid it wasn't Mr Humphreys' body that failed him, it was his character.

He just couldn't stay with it.





If you must wait

Wait for them here in my arms as I shake

♪ If you must weep...

Is that strong enough for you? That's fine.

No sugar? No sugar, sweet enough for me.

How are you doing? Never better.

♪ you must mourn, my love

♪ Mourn with the moon and the stars up above

♪ you must mourn

Don't do it alone ♪

So, as well as your cycle of amitriptyline, you were prescribed glucocorticosteroids for your latest relapse.

You can't have got through all of those already.

I wouldn't have thought.

Someone broke Into my car.


Mention it to the police? No, there's no point, is there?

Because they only stole the pills and some CD's.

Bee Gees' greatest hits. Which I was gutted about because I bloody love those squeaky little bastards.

So to be clear, these are not anti-depressants, Mr Humphreys.

I mean, that's good because I'm not depressed.

You know, maybe you wanna change your mind about going to one of those groups I mentioned?

What, sit in a circle and listen to how crap everybody else's life is?

You know, sharing your issues might help. Sharing my issues?

Like how I hate wobbling about like a twat, how I've started to lose control of my bladder and it won't be on the floor before I lose control of my arse and start to shit myself.

So, be careful, 'cause I could go at any second.

And then, to top it all off...

My dick doesn't work.

Is that the sort of thing you think I should be sharing?



No, but what I really want, Martin, is for you to not give up.


I should probably take this because it's my crack dealer.

Hello? Hello, Martin.

It... It's Julie. Yes.

That's right. Julie Ellis. (CHUCKLES)

Hi. Hi. Hiya.

Thanks for coming round. It's... It's all right.

Yeah. You sure you're ready for this?

Absolutely. (CHUCKLES)

Okay, then. Let's begin at the beginning, shall we?



It's all right. It's like anything. It's scary at first.

But then when you get your head round it, you'll be all right.


Has he, um...

Has he rung you again?

Nathan? No. Yeah.

Now, look, I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it, calling me.

It's just he doesn't think sometimes, does he?

Oh, well, no, he does think a lot. Just mainly about maths.

Which is fine, you know.

He just thinks I'm a bit of an idiot because I failed at maths at school.

I mean, I got everything else, it was just, you know...


It's why I wanna do this really, you know, get into his head more.

I'm not making sense. Shut up, Julie. No, you're making perfect sense.

Not really. No, you are.

I mean, the thing about maths, as with any subject, I think if you have an inspirational teacher, um, then you'll be away.

Which is where I come in. (CHUCKLES)

Mr Inspirational. (SNICKERS)

Okay, then.

Let's start with something...

Yeah. Pythagoras. Yay. Okay.

Uh, can you say that word? Hypotenuse.

Bless you. (BOTH LAUGH)

You all right? You got a little bit of a cold?

(RAPPING) It's time to step up, mofo, and see what you can do

♪ Keep your Pythag theorem to yourself I raise you B minus C plus F equals 2 ♪


Who's next? Who's next? Your turn, Luke.

Go, Luke.

ALL: Go, Luke. Go, Luke.

Thank you, but I really don't see the point.

Apart from succumbing to testosterone-fuelled irrationality.

It's because it's funny, Luke.

Don't you have a sense of humour? Just ignore him.

He's here to bring the mood down as always, so don't let him.

I'm here to do maths. You're just a regular quadrilateral.


Okay, take it, Ben. BEN: (RAPPING) UK, make some noise!

(ALL CHEERING) ♪ 'Cause I'm talking pi, bro, I'm talking...

♪ 1141592653553...

♪ 9793238462643... ♪




Sorry. Um...

No, It's all right.

I was just practicing my fingering.



Go on, laugh.

No? Okay.

Um, do you play?

No. Come on.


Beautiful sounds are about frequency ratios.

The simpler the ratio, like this C and this C, a simple ratio of 1:2.



Complex harmonies, like this... (PLAYS DISSONANT CHORD)



Do you want to try?




(CHUCKLES) Is that right?

Yeah, it was, um...

So you've never played before? No.


All music is maths, really.

Come on, I'll teach you the next bit.


JULIE: Is this all right? MARTIN: Oh, Christ, yeah.

Do you want me to pour it out? Please.

It's nice to relax actually. It's been a while.

There you go. Thank you.

Well, it's good that you find maths relaxing.


Must have been very difficult for you, being just you and Nathan.

You know, without...

Michael. Michael.

Sorry. Dickhead. No.

Me, not... Not Michael. I know.


Well, I mean, but you're...

You're the same. It must be the...

(SHUTTERS) I mean, you're not with anyone.

No. No. Are you? No.

My passion's my work, you see. (LAUGHS)

(BURPS) Sorry.

You all right? Yeah.

Sometimes I wonder if Nathan will ever find anyone, you know?

Nathan's nothing like me.

If you're worried that Nathan's gonna end up like... You shouldn't.

I wasn't. It would be a good thing. You shouldn't.

I might just pop off to the toilet. Okay.

Uh, I got crisps.


(GRUNTS) Sorry. It's all right.

Sorry, are you a bit stiff? No, what?

(LAUGHS) I mean, your back.



Shit. I'm so sorry. Did I hurt you? It's okay. Are you all right?

No. It's okay.

You all right? Sorry. Sorry about that.

It's okay. I, um… I just want to say that, um...

You don't... For me... No, I do.

In this sort of situation there's only so far that I am able to, um, go.

And I don't want to make you disappointed.

You... You couldn't. I wouldn't... Sorry.

Yeah, I understand.

Do you mind if we get up? I think I'm sat on a set square.


I think it's funny that your favourite English food is Chinese.

Do you always like to have everything the same?

Because I change my favourite things all the time.

I don't usually like change.

I like it here, though. Do you?

I mean, the Chinese approach to maths.



This is called The Nine Chapters of Mathematical Art.

This took more than 1,000 years to write.

In China, mathematics is more than numbers.

Um, It is like art.


There are... There are eight prawn balls. I...

It needs to be a prime.

So... 20 random cards are placed in a row all face-down.

A move consists of turning a face-down card face-up and turning over the card immediately to the right.

Show that no matter what the choice of cards to turn this sequence of moves must terminate.

Nathan, hiding in the back won't help you.

Would you like to come up and show us?

(WHISPERS) Go on, Nathan.

Okay, so we need to... We need to look at the cards not as cards, but as, uh...

As numbers.

We can call face-down cards...


Face-up cards... Zero.

And initially it would be a sequence of ones as the cards are all face down.

But after a while it would look something like that.

And, as we can see, that is a binary number.

And a move that consists of turning a face-down card face up and the card immediately to the right of it could be that a one followed by a one, will turn into a zero followed by a zero.

That would be like that. Or it could be a one followed by a zero turning into a zero followed by a one.

In either case, we can see that the number in binary is strictly decreasing.

And that means?

Which means that the sequence must terminate.


Because you can't keep taking away from a positive integer without it turning negative. No, you can't.

You definitely can't. Good work;.

Everyone. Good work.




Uh, hello. My name's Martin Humphreys and I'm an alcoholic.

No, not really. Well, a little bit.

Um, I've got MS, that's why I'm here. I got that group tomorrow.


No, seriously, thank you for everybody who's, uh, shared and stuff.

Because there's definitely things that I can identify with and that I definitely recognise;.


So, there's this person I like, but I know how bad I'm gonna get and it's very difficult to imagine any sort of a rosy future or anyone wanting to be a part of that future with me.


Oh, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Um...

Because you...


This is ridiculous.

Because in a few years' time I might not... I might not even be able to hold hands or have a little cuddle.


That really, really scares me.



We should ask the others to suggest a variety of trigonometric identities to simplify the expressions, which could include, say, coversine or possibly covercosine or versine or excosecant and so on.

Luke, we're trying to think of fun questions for each other, we're not trying to prove how many trigonometric identities we know.

Well, then I really don't see the point. We are competing with each other.

You can pretend you're everyone's best friend all you like, Isaac, but I'm here to get on the team.

Sorry, when have I ever tried to be your best friend, Luke?

Nathan, this is a democracy, yours is the casting vote.

Yes. Democracy in the true Chinese sense of the word. Forget it.

We'll just do your question... Are you gonna sulk?

Boo-hoo-hoo, poor Luke.


I've come across people like him before. Definitely autistic.

He seems to have picked up all the bad traits and none of the good.

What bad traits? Obsessive.

Socially incompetent. That sort of thing.

It's about adaptability, Nathan.

Sometimes we have to change our shape so that we fit in.


MAN 1: That was you pushing the cage.

MAN 2: I did not! MAN 1: Yes, you did! Polly!

Polly Parrot, wake up!


Now that's what I call a dead parrot.


MEI: I love this. It's stinky tofu.

NATHAN: Stinky?


(GROANS) Oh, that's horrible. (CHUCKLES)

It stinks but it tastes really, really good.

Oh, look.

I used to play this when I was small, in my hometown, as a child.


A sweet.

It's sticky. It's stuck in my teeth.

(CHUCKLING) You have a funny face.


You don't like it? I'll eat it. And you can have this'.

We should, uh... We should probably go.

Aren't you... (CLEARS THROAT)

Aren't you worried about the exam?

Well, it is good to have a break. Clear your mind.

Don't worry. We will both get into the Olympiad in Cambridge. The IMO.

And I will meet your family when I come and stay with you.

My cultural exchange.


Look at this.

You're a bit like a turtle, aren't you?

In your shell.

Come on.

In China, do boys like me get bullied?


You know, like when people treat you badly because you're clever.

Why would they do that?

I wish England was more like China.

I wish China was more like here.

In China we have to succeed for the family.

Especially for Uncle Deng.

Some people say that I am only here because of him.

That's not true. No, you're really clever.

Thank you.

And you're very nice.

Prawn ball. Turtle boy.



RICHARD: Alternate team seating.

UK team member, Chinese team member.

Alternative seating. UK team member, Chinese team member.

IMO conditions apply.

White card if you request some paper.

A blue for water.

Green if you need to go to the toilet.

Yellow to ask a question but only in the first half-hour.

And red if you've left the gas on at home or something and you need to leave.

The six of you who score highest will represent Team UK, no "ifs", no "buts".


You may begin.

NATHAN: "Each integer is coloured either red, yellow or green."

"Show that there always exist A, B, C,"

"such that A, B, C,."

"A plus B, A plus C..."

"A plus B, A plus C, B plus C and A plus B plus C"

"are all the same colour."


Right! No point in dilly-dallying, I suppose.

I'll pin your scores up on the board in a second.

The five outstanding students guaranteed a place at the IMO in Cambridge this year are...


Lee Jing.


Pav. And Ben.

The last place was very tight between Nathan and Luke.

Both scores somewhat disappointing, but one of you will have to go to Cambridge.

So, by the smallest fraction of a point, the last place on the team goes to...


The six of you will be hosting the Chinese team at your own homes and I'll see you all in Cambridge next week.

Onward, Christian soldiers.

RICHARD: A real Taiwanese last supper!

"As the old proverb say, “Slowly, slowly, catchy prawn."

Now, you put your bait on the hooks and you put your hooks in the water.

Don't worry, Nathan. I only just made the team myself.

We should be celebrating!


ISAAC: He's so strange.

PAV: At least we don't have to see him again.


What a dick.


MEI: Ah! Ah! NATHAN: What do I do?






MEI: I'm sorry.

DENG: How's it going? RICHARD: Good.

These two are tender? Not yet.

Not yet. I have this all under control, thank you very much. It's fine.

Okay, okay. You're the expert.

I think these ones... Can I get a plate?


MEI: Smells good.


Have you seen this? Now that's what I call a dead prawn.

This prawn is definitely deceased.

When I bought it half-hour ago, you assured me that its lack of movement was due to it being tired and shagged out.

Oh, my God.

"Say, “No, no, it's resting."

What? Say, "No, no, it's resting."

No, no, it's resting.

All right, then. Well, if it's resting, I'll wake it up.

Hello, Prawny. Prawny, wake up!

This prawn wouldn't wake up if I put 4,000 volts through it.

It's bleedin' demised. It has ceased to be.

It's expired and gone to meet its maker.

This is an ex-prawn!

(CHUCKLING) Seriously, Luke, what are you?

Well, what are you, Isaac?

“I find everything so easy and I have everything.

"And I'm gonna go out of my way to make sure that you're not happy at all.“."

MAN 1 ON TV: Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plumage.

The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone-dead.

No, no, no. It's resting.

All Right, then. If it's resting, I'll wake it up.

Hello, Polly! I got a nice Cuttlefish for you when you wake up, Polly Parrot!

MAN 1: There, it moved. MAN 2: No, it didn't.



It's fine.

I've done it before.

Just got a bit carried away this time.

How did your mum and dad explain it to you?

When they found out.

I presume you've been diagnosed.

Mine said it made me unique.

"“No one wants to be ordinary," they said.

It's all right being weird as long as you're gifted.

But if you're not gifted, then...

That just leaves weird.

Doesn't it?

You are gifted, Luke.

I don't even enjoy it.


Isn't that stupid?

What's the point?

Right, away you go.

Your chariot awaits.

Nathan, can I have a word?

When I speak to people of a non-mathematical nature, they always struggle with the notion that mathematics can be beautiful.

But if beauty is truth and truth is beauty, well, then surely mathematics is the most beautiful thing of all.


There is rare beauty in your work, Nathan.

But you are unpredictable and inconsistent. Which worries me.

You need to focus if you're gonna win a medal.

And don't be distracted by your Chinese guest.


Oh, cai hong!

NATHAN: Uh, the rainbow. Yeah, rainbow, cai hong.

Cai hpng. Yeah.

Cai hong. Cai hong.

MEI: So beautiful.

JULIE: Welcome home. Hi, darling. MARTIN: Hey!

JULIE: Hi, darling... Hi! MARTIN: Welcome back.


(CHUCKLES) Hi! Hello, sweetheart.

Hi. Hi.

How do you pronounce your name? Uh, Zhang Mei.

Zhang Mei. Julie. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you.

We put a little... Wait, it's coming round now.

Cambridge, here we come!

Whoo-whom whoo-whoo! (JULIE LAUGHS)

Why did you get my train set out?

Um... Nathan...


Welcome to England. Thank you.

JULIE: Nathan.

Nathan, I'm sorry. I'm sorry about the train.

So that's Zhang Mei, is it?

What's she like?

She's... She's clever.

And she's nice, too.

Sounds to me like you quite like her.

Of course I like her.

Yeah, no, I mean, like: More than you normally like things.

You know, uh, like more than...

Ice cream. Or...

Or maths.

I don't like anything more than I like maths.

Nathan, darling, I wish you'd just called me.

Let me know that you're okay, you know?


Well, because, darling...

I like you...

More than I like ice cream.

I said she could have my room.

That's very gentlemanly of you.

Isn't that the right thing to do?


So, I'm… I'm blowing this up for you then, am I?

Yeah. But, uh, can I have it in my room?

Zhang Mei's in there.

We might want to study.


So, that man today, he is not your father?

No, he's my teacher. My father died.

I'm sorry, Nathan.

It's not your fault.

I mean, I feel sad for you.

It must be hard to lose someone that you love so much.

You think it will work?

100%? I hope so.

We did it! It actually works.

Right-oh, observers. It's time to assemble.

Panama hats, Richard? Really?

Yes, it was a consensus decision.

I discussed it with myself and I decided it would be a good idea.

Are you sure you're not too rusty for all this?

I can manage a bit of shepherding.

Been Nathan's teacher for seven years, I wanna see this through.

He's a very sensitive kid.

Yeah, yeah, I suppose children are like animals.

You get attached to them after a while.

JULIE: Oh, my gosh! Is this where you're staying?

Oh, wow.



So, um, you've got your phone on you and you know you can call me any time.


I'll be thinking of you.

Okay. Well, goodbye.


Goodbye. Bye.

Bye. Bye.

Bye, darling.

What are you doing? I was taking your hand.

Come on!

You let go!

RICHARD: Isaac Newton. G.H. Hardy.

Ramanujan. Bertrand Russell.

They all began their mathematical journeys here.

Trinity alumni have accumulated thirty two Nobel prizes and no less than four Fields Medals.

Although Russell did go off the rails somewhat later in his career.

But nevertheless, this is the most prestigious place to study mathematics on the planet. And you are here.

Because they are the past and you are the future.

So don't let me down.

WOMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to welcome you! To the 59th International.

Mathematical Olympiad in Cambridge.


Please welcome Australia.

A warm welcome for Bangladesh.


The People's Republic of China.

A round of applause for United Kingdom.


(noon OPENS)

Nathan? Yeah?

I can't sleep.

You can, uh, stay here if you want. Like... Like at home.

What are you reading?

It's the Ten Years of Mathematical Challenges, '97 to '06 edition.


MEI: Oh.

I'm sorry.

Is that right?


Are you okay?


I am glad I am here with you.

Me, too.


(door OPENS)





I can't be here with people thinking I don't deserve it.

Why don't you just stay until the end of the competition?

No, Nathan!


(SNIFFLING) Nathan...

Just because...

Just because I'm going, it...

It does not mean that...

I don't find myself liking you.

REBECCA: Excuse me. Sorry.

Nathan? Um...

Did you get into trouble? About Zhang Mei?

I think I might have accidentally sort of mentioned something to someone.

I didn't mean to hurt anyone. It's just...


I'm sorry.



STUDENTS: Oi! MAN: Oggy, Oggy, Oggy!



Hello, Nathan.

I know, I know, I know. I know you said not to bother you, but I just, um...

Well, I just wanted to... I wanted to cheer on Team Nathan.

Go, Nathan! (CHUCKLES)

Anyway, um, I'll be waiting outside and, uh...

Best of luck, darling.

There's no such thing as luck.


(WHISPERS) Nathan.

I'm gonna be circling, so I'll try and slip you some of the answers, all right?

That's cheating.

You know I was joking.

You're gonna be all right.


Four hours and 30 minutes. You may begin.


NATHAN: "4n squared trains are arranged in a 2n x 2n square"

"and each is painted with one of four colours."

"Every 2 x 2 square of trains involves each of the four colours."

"Every 2 x 2 square of trains..."

"Every 2 x 2 square of trains involves each of the four colours."

"Prove that the trains..."

"Prove that the trains on the corners of the 2n x 2n square"

"are painted with different colours."





It must be hard to lose someone that you love so much.


What's the matter, mate?

JULIE: Nathan?



Open the door. Martin, open the door!

Open the door, Martin. Martin!




Where's he going? I don't know.

He just wanted to go, Julie. I could see it in his eyes.

(SHUTTERS) And I'm sorry, I didn't wanna stop him. I'm sorry.

It's okay.




Zhang Mei said that she liked me.


That's a...

That's a good thing, isn't it?

And do you... Do you think that you might have those kind of feelings, too?

I don't know. Hmm.

I've been trying to work it out. But...

I found a formula. I just can't understand it.

Well, as far as I know, Nathan, no one ever has.

I know that when... When I'm around her, my brain works differently.

And my body feels strange and I don't know what it means or why it matters.

Why it matters?

It matters because...

Well, when...

When somebody loves you, it means that they see something in you...

That they think is worth something. So it sort of...

It adds value to you.

But it can be hard...

You know, when you love someone and they...

They show no sign that they love you back, then it's… Then it's unequal. Or, um...

When... When someone you love...

ls subtracted from you...

Then it feels like, you know, that your value is less than it was.

Does that make sense?

Why did he have to go?

I don't know.

It just doesn't make sense. I know.

It never will. It was an accident.

Things made sense when I was with him.

But why? Why...

What did he do that I don't?

How did he make sense of things for you?


(VOICE BREAKING) I don't know, he made me laugh and...

He stuck chips up his nose.


He stuck chips up his nose? (CHUCKLES)

Oh, okay, well, I'll stick a chip up my nose.

Talk to me now?


Nathan. (SNIFFLES)

Nathan, it's all right. It's okay.

It hurts.

I know, darling. Me, too.

Come here.

It's all right.


It's all right, it's all right, good boy. It's okay.



Hey, hey.

Where is Zhang Mei now?

She... She's gone to the station.

Do you wanna fetch her back?


Okay, we'd better be quick.




♪ Miss you terribly already Miss the space between your eyelids

♪ Where I'd stare through awkward sentences

♪ And avoid through awkward silence

♪ Miss your teeth when they chatter when we smoked out in my garden

♪ When we couldn't sleep for all the heat.

♪ Soft talk began to harden

♪ Miss your small hands in the palm of mine

♪ The fact they're good at making

♪ Miss your sitting up incessantly

♪ And the fact you're always waking in the night

♪ The night

♪ And I

♪ I hope for your life

♪ You forget about mine

♪ Forget about mine

♪ Miss your teeth dug in my shoulder

♪ As we rolled in early mornings

♪ Miss your arm dying beneath me.

♪ As I lay there, simply yawning

♪ Please forget me

♪ You were right, dear

♪ I am cold and self-involved

♪ And though I'll miss you, recent lover

♪ l am weak and therefore cold

♪ Get distracted by my music

♪ Think of nothing else but art

♪ I'll write my loneliness in poems

♪ If I can just think how to start

♪ Dot my I's with eyebrow pencils

♪ Close my eyelids, hide my eyes

♪ I'll be idle in my ideals

♪ Think of nothing else but!

♪ And I

♪ And I

♪ And I

♪ I hope for your life.

♪ You can forget about mine

♪ Just forget about mine

♪ And mine

♪ Mine ♪