Stuart Dredge writes…
The BBC has moved quickly to deny rumours that it’s planning to revive Tomorrow’s World, its science show that ran for 38 years before being mercifully put out of its misery in 2003.
Phew. Thank goodness for that. It might have worked with Doctor Who, but if ever a show was undeserving of a phoenix-like comeback, it’s Tomorrow’s World. Why? It was clunky, frequently patronising, and made the world of science about as interesting as, well, school science lessons.
People might get nostalgic for the programme’s notoriously hit’n’miss predictions (in short: Robots! Soon! In Flying Cars!), but the fact remains that Tomorrow’s World suffered from a wider affliction: TV just doesn’t do technology well.
It’s true. The world of consumer technology is constantly evolving. It’s full of hype, rumour and wild predictions. It’s exciting, dammit.
Not that you’d know it from any TV technology show, since they tend to favour the po-faced approach, reducing even the most jaw-dropping technological developments to plodding items that would make even the most ardent gadget-lover switch over to ‘Totally Jodie Marsh: Who’ll Take Her Up The Aisle?’. At least, that’s my excuse.
Where is the show that tells me in a sparky, non-cliched and attention-holding way why I should care about music DRM, which explains whether Honda is talking rubbish about putting Asimo in homes within 20 years, which puts the latest mobile phones through their paces, makes sense of Blu-ray v HD DVD, and manages to incorporate user-generated content without being patronising or irrelevant? Oh, and which blows things up regularly, occasionally unintended.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not asking for a show presented by Dick & Dom which veers from gadget to gizmo via 17 jumpcuts and a nu-grime soundtrack. And neither am I suggesting that Tech Digest’s own forays into video provide the answer (although there’s probably a thriving digital channel to be made out of Susi Weaser in a Cyberman helmet and me on a Giddyup horse simulator).
It’s just that there has to be a better way to make great telly out of consumer technology than turning to an old format that felt past its sell-by-date for most of the time it was originally on. If the BBC really was ever considering bringing Tomorrow’s World back, it’s a sign that they don’t have any better ideas.
So, broadcasting types, consider this a challenge. Read a few blogs and websites, soak up the CES show next January, and then come up with a format that turns the amazing stuff going on into watchable telly. And DON’T call it Tomorrow’s World…
Stuart Dredge is the editor-in-chief of Tech Digest, and corpsed like an idiot on his one Tomorrow’s World appearance while trying to explain TiVo to Adam Hart-Davis. His lingering bitterness played no part in this column. Really.