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Tomorrow's World

Tomorrow's World was a long-running BBC television series, showcasing new (and often wacky) developments in the world of science and technology. First aired in 1965, it ran for 38 years until it was axed at the beginning of 2003, ostensibly because of falling ratings. The original show was hosted by veteran broadcaster and one-time Spitfire pilot Raymond Baxter, and by its heyday in the 1970s, it was attracting 10 million viewers per week. Baxter was joined by Michael Rodd, Judith Hann and Howard Stableford.

The show was usually broadcast live, and as a result became famous not only for its technology demonstrations but also for for the occasional failure of the technology to work as expected. For example, in demonstrating a new kind of car jack that required much less effort to operate, the jack disintegrated when trying to actually lift a car. Pressing on in the face of such adversity became a rite of passage for new presenters on the show. The show was also occasionally parodied, for example by Not The Nine O'Clock News, which featured TW-style demonstrations of such inventions as a telephone ring notification device for the deaf - powered by a "micro-pro-cessor" looking suspiciously like a Shreddie (a kind of cereal biscuit).

The series attempted to modernise its format and approach in the 1990s, with mixed success. More "populist" presenters such as Phillipa Forrester and Peter Snow came in, replaced in the final series by Adam Hart-Davis, Kate Humble and Roger Black. Ratings continued to fall, and with only three million viewers in the last series, the BBC decided to axe the show. They say they are planning to produce a number of science special editions under the Tomorrow's World "brand" from time to time. Many see the decline of the show as a classic example of the "dumbing down" that the BBC has been accused of, others suggest that the decline is inevitable given the increasing complexity of modern technology, making it harder to put across to a lay audience in a couple of minutes. The TechTV television network airs reruns of the show.

The show was in many cases the first time some key technologies that are now commonplace were ever seen by the public. Notably: