Tomorrow’s World Live: For One Night Only

Tomorrow's World Live
Maggie Philbin and Howard Stableford. (C) BBC.

Fifteen years after the last episode aired, this special one-off edition of the long-running science show saw the return of some old favourite presenters looking at the technology of the future.

Guiding us through were veterans Maggie Philbin and Howard Stableford, who were also accompanied by Dr. Hannah Fry, who seems to present just about every science programme going on BBC Four. Later on there were also appearances from two other original presenters, Judith Hann (the longest-serving member of the team) and Peter Snow.

Part of the programme was looking back at some of the scientific inventions and discoveries the programme highlighted that went onto become big, like the CDs that they infamously claimed couldn’t be scratched, or some rather disturbing 1960s footage of Kevlar being test by a man wearing some while being shot at with live ammunition. There were also the inventions that never got off the ground – mostly robots failing to do the most basic of things.

However, there was also a look at technology now, with Philbin in several filmed pieces demonstrating driverless cars and satellite technology among other things, while Stableford toyed with how virtual reality is being used in medicine and interviewed among others the nephew of Clive Sinclair, who is developing his own version of the C5 car.

Obviously, not everything worked on the night, and one of those things was the live transmission. At one point, about 15 minutes in, the image was lost and it instead went to a live feed of the This Week studio. This is at best annoying, but for those of us who still remember last month’s Inside No. 9 Halloween special we were also getting one or two scary flashbacks.

Overall though, the programme was still as entertaining and informative as I remember it when I was growing up. This episode may have been, “for one night only”, but I for one wouldn’t mind it coming back for more.

Tomorrow’s World Live is on the BBC iPlayer.