The Daily Mail has reported that there has been an 'astonishing' rise in the number of youngsters studying traditional subjects including Maths and Science a-levels and the rise has been put down to Professor Brain Cox's acclaimed science programmes.

Having started out as a keyboard player in the band D:Ream, Cox is now a Royal Society University Research Fellow, works on the ATLAS project with the large hadron collider at CERN and has presented a number of successful BBC shows.

However, despite his later success, Cox has previously revealed he received a D for his maths A-level, reports the Metro.

After a-level students found out their results yesterday morning it was revealed that Maths entries have risen by 40 per cent over the past five years, which now put the subject as second most popular a-level. Physics has increased by 19.6 per cent, sitting in tenth place for the first time in three decades. Chemistry is up 19.4 per cent and Biology up 13.7 per cent.

The rise in students wanting, and succeeding, in studying Maths and Science has been put down to the 'Brian Cox' effect. Ziggy Liaquat, managing director of Edexcel, referred to the increasing presence of science and maths in popular culture and added: "It could be the Brian Cox effect. It could be as simple as that."

Liaquat pointed to the beginning of the financial downturn as the impetus for students to choose to study science and maths.

"When these students would have made their choices, it would have been at the very beginning of the global economic downturn, when businesses were crying out for students and young people to have skills in science, engineering and maths," the managing director commented.

"What we are seeing today is the outcome of those choices. Students are making far more informed choices on what's going to give them success in terms of jobs, university and meeting the needs of the economy, which we all know has to compete in a global marketplace. That's a really positive message from today," the Edexcel director continued.