YOU might think advanced mathematics is a rather joyless and serious subject, but one Oxford University professor is looking to the funny side.

New College maths and science professor Marcus du Sautoy is back for the third series of a TV show that mixes comedy and tough sums.

Dara O Briain: School of Hard Sums sees Prof du Sautoy pose brain-teasing puzzles to comedians on satellite channel Dave.

The Professor for the Public Understanding of Science has joined comedian O Briain for the third series of the hit comedy show.

Comedians facing his mathematical acumen this series include Peter Serafinowicz, Lee Mack, Kevin Bridges and Marcus Brigstocke.

The Londoner, 48, said: “I was involved with trying to see how we could make this show work with this weird mix of mathematics and comedy. I wasn’t quite sure it would really work as a TV programme.

“I think even Dave were very surprised with how popular it was. The show has gone from strength to strength.

“It is a real mark of how successful the whole thing has become.

“We are now getting comedians that want to come on and do the show – before they were slightly nervous.

“Now comedians see it as a really great platform to perform.”

He said: “I’ve done a lot of television series, but this is the first thing I’ve ever done on Dave.”

Mr du Sautoy said: “I was a little nervous because Dara is in both camps. He is in the comedy camp and the maths camp as well.

“But I think the comedians are generally interested. If you dream up an interesting story they are quite competitive.

“What is exciting is seeing them come away – and quite often the comedians get it in the end.

“If you can use the ideas of mathematics, you can actually get a process restored and that’s what businesses and investors are using all the time. It is an interesting programme for that.”

The show is screened every Tuesday at 10pm on the channel Dave.