Tomorrow’s World is a BBC television series on new developments in science and technology. First transmitted on 7 July 1965 on BBC1, it ran for 38 years until it was cancelled at the beginning of 2003. The Tomorrow’s World title was revived in 2017 as an umbrella brand for BBC science programming.
Tomorrow’s World was created by Glyn Jones to fill a half-hour slot in the 1965 BBC summer schedule. Jones and his wife conceived the show’s name the night before the Radio Times went to press. In its early days the show was edited by Max Morgan-Witts and hosted by veteran broadcaster and former Spitfire pilot Raymond Baxter. For some years it had an instrumental theme tune composed and performed by John Dankworth. During the 1970s the programme attracted 10 million viewers per week.
The programme was usually broadcast live, and as a result saw the occasional failure of its technology demonstrations. For example, during a demonstration of a new kind of car jack that required much less effort to operate, the jack disintegrated. Pressing on in the face of such adversity became a rite of passage, both for new presenters on the show and for the young assistant producers whose job it was to find the stories and make sure this kind of setback did not happen.
Sometimes, however, the liveness gave an added dimension of immediacy to the technology, such as inventors personally demonstrating flame-proof clothing and bullet-proof vests while the presenters looked on. Sometimes it was the presenter who acted as test dummy.
Tomorrow’s World also frequently ran exhibitions, called “Tomorrow’s World Live”, often based in Earls Court, London. These offered the general public the chance to see at first hand a variety of brand new, pioneering inventions, as well as a selection from that year’s show. The presenters, by this time Peter Snow and Philippa Forrester, also ran an hour-long interactive presentation within.
The show was also occasionally parodied, for example by Not The Nine O’Clock News, which featured demonstrations of such inventions as a telephone ring notification device for the deaf – powered by a microprocessor looking like a “Shreddie“, and later by the second series of Look Around You.