BBC revives ‘Tomorrow’s World’ as a brand for new programmes

Show introduced us to home computers (1967), ATMs (1969) and mobile phone (1979)

The original ‘Tomorrow’s World’ ran on BBC1 for almost 40 years.

The original ‘Tomorrow’s World’ ran on BBC1 for almost 40 years.

 

The BBC has revived Tomorrow’s World, its science and technology television series, as a name for a wide range of new programmes in partnership with organisations such as the Science Museum and the Wellcome Trust.

The broadcaster said the initiative was “the biggest scientific partnership we have ever convened”. BBC director-general Tony Hall said it would generate “hundreds of hours of content about the way science is changing our lives, our world and our health”.

The original Tomorrow’s World ran on BBC1 for almost 40 years from 1965 with presenters such as James Burke, Raymond Baxter and Judith Hann. Advances that made their first public appearance on the programme included a home computer terminal (1967), ATM cash machine (1969), mobile phone (1979), compact disc (1981) and clockwork radio (1993).

Tomorrow’s World inspired me in the 1970s,” Brian Cox, physics professor and science communicator, said at the launch of the initiative in London’s Science Museum. “The 21st-century Tomorrow’s World represents the institutions of Britain coming together to allow Britain to continue to be the best place in the world to do science.”

Relativism

Prof Cox saw the move as part of the fight against “a deep crisis of confidence which threatens a retreat into a destructive relativism where all ideas are equal and free from challenge by facts”.

At the heart of the new Tomorrow’s World is a digital hub with contributions from the BBC and partners, including the Open University and Royal Society.

Although Tomorrow’s World will not be resurrected as a television programme, it will be the umbrella brand for several new series. For example, the Science Museum will open up its huge reserve collection in warehouses at Wroughton, Wiltshire, for a televised search for “Britain’s greatest invention”.

Among the highlights, physicist Stephen Hawking will investigate the prospects for human colonisation of other planets, the mathematician Hannah Fry will answer public questions about the future, a new medical series will look at surgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, another will examine the fight against antibiotic resistance, and a space series will follow the selection process for astronauts.

Science Museum director Ian Blatchford said museums “have an enormous online audience but this building [in London] will include a nice analogue showcase for the programme”. Its contemporary science wing will be rebranded as Tomorrow’s World. – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017)