Tomorrow’s World becomes yesterday’s news

3 Jan 2003

The BBC has announced that the creative children’s science and technology programme Tomorrow’s World is being axed in its weekly form.

One of the many and varied reasons why many of you got involved with technology, and for some, the reason you didn’t, is being dropped because of poor viewing figures.

Speaking to The Guardian website, the programme’s creative director, Sarah Hargreaves, said this afternoon however that the brand name Tomorrow’s World would survive in a number of new programmes to be spread out over the coming year.

After nearly 40 years of gadgets, gizmos and geeks, staff were informed that, due to falling ratings – dropping slowly from a high of 10 million in the Seventies and Eighties to a low of around three million for the last series, which ended in August – the weekly 7 o’clock slot is to go.

Among the new-fangled inventions demonstrated on the show that subsequently became everyday items were the home computer, compact disc, fax machine, phone card, pocket calculator, personal stereo, disposable camera, mobile phone and of course the ‘suspenderless’ stocking.

Tomorrow’s World, which was once hosted by our own Craig Doyle was, despite its futuristic self image, in many people’s minds a quintessentially Seventies phenomenon.

Explaining the decision, Hargreaves said: “There is clearly a need for popular science shows, but Tomorrow’s World needed to evolve”.

“We are looking to cover the same subjects as the old Tomorrow’s World, new technology, but in a different format. Having a studio with a line-up of presenters is the Tomorrow’s World of 20 or 30 years ago and it needed to change.”

Former presenters have this afternoon been expressing their anger at the decision to axe the show.

Vivienne Parry, who presented the show between 1994 and 1997, said: “It has inspired generation of children to become scientists.”

The inimitable Peter Snow, who hosted it in 1999, described Tomorrow’s World as ‘a prized possession of the BBC’.

The 38-year-old popular science programme was launched in 1965 to provide news about developments in science and technology.

By Suzanne Byrne