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Series / Tomorrow's World

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Zeerust even set in with the opening credits

Tomorrow's World was a long-running BBC science and technology show that was aired between 1965 and 2003. It was born as the BBC's contribution to the mid-1960's "We're Backing Britain!" campaign, a government drive that sought to reverse Britain's decline as a manufacturing and industrial power by highlighting the very best of British ingenuity, talent, skill and ability to be at the leading edge in all aspects of cutting-edge tech. It also sat well with then Prime Minister Harold Wilson making "a new Britain, forged out of the white heat of technology" a keystone of his leadership. As so often happens, the show vastly outlived the reasons for its creation, and it was still a fixture of BBC programming in the very early 2000's. By then the white heat of British technology had had its fires damped somewhat by Margaret Thatcher and others, but there were still enough glowing embers left to sustain a weekly digest of exciting technological developments.

Initially presented by a team headed by former RAF pilot Raymond Baxter, the show was a manifestation of the BBC's original charter commitment to educate as well as to entertain, and earnestly sought to break down the underlying scientific mysteries into small easily understandable sound-bites. it came from very much the same place and from the same underlying broadcast philosophy as Blue Peter, and even diehard nostalgic fans will admit it came over as Blue Peter for grown-ups. In its thirty-eight years on screen with much the same unchanging format, it became a British broadcast institution, and even earnt the accolade of getting its own dedicated parody show: Look Around You became (in its second series) a blatant Shout-Out, maybe even Homage, to TW.

Tropes demonstrated and explained on this show by the earnest presentation team may include, twenty or thirty years into our future, the following:

  • Ace Pilot: the previous life of presenter Raymond Baxter, a decorated wartime RAF pilot; the RAF recognised this and in 1976, allowed him to fly in what was then the brand new Jaguar fighter jet plane and try it out for the show, a coup for the BBC and a delight for the then fifty-four year old Baxter. His flying skills and experience made him the BBC's go-to man for aircraft-related stories.
  • Always a Live Transmission: this was the case until well into The '70s.
  • By Royal Approval: The Royal Family were fans of the show. Prince Charles appeared in every series, much as his sister Princess Anne was involved with Blue Peter, and sponsored the annual Prince of Wales Award for Industrial Innovation and Production which was awarded in the final episode of every series.
  • Broadcast Live: This was the rule at the start; while pre-recorded late, special shows, such as Prince Charles presenting his award for industrial innovation, were live broadcasts.
  • Computer Equals Tapedrive: figured a lot in early transmissions. And in some comparatively later ones too.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Judith Hann, who on more than one occassion did presentations from a swimming pool to illustrate watersports-related innovations; later presenter Maggie Philbin.
  • Long-Runners: Thirty-eight years followed by occassional specials and an online presence.
  • Musical Episode: For such a staid show, TW had a tangential role in pop and rock music: in The '60s, in order to demonstrate new advances in electronics that powered guitars and keyboards, a brand new group called The Tremeloes made their first appearance on British TV. And in The '70s, a bizarre left-field German band called Kraftwerk made its first-even appearance on British TV, performing a strange electronic piece about The Autobahn, so as to demonstrate the great strides being made in electronic and computerised music. note 
  • The Show Must Go Wrong: Happened several times during live broadcasts; a new form of car jack (billed as revolutionising the process of changing a car wheel) disintegrated under the weight it was supporting, and the mechanic tending it needed hospitalisation. Occasional presenter Bob Symes ended up needing several fingers amputating when he caught his hand in active machinery during a demonstration to camera.
  • Zeerust: Twice over. The studio setting and presenting format looked excitingly cutting edge in the late years of The '60s, but never really changed much in the following decades. By The '90s it all looked... well, fossilised in a 1970's version of what The '90s would look like, which nobody had bothered overmuch to update. And the show's visions of the future were as often as not overtaken by events - some of the futuristic cutting-edge developments, especially in computing, seemed to become obsolescent even before first transmission.