Tomorrow’s World terminated

Just before lunch, I learned that the BBC is axing Tomorrow’s World because of falling ratings.

I’m sure (I think) that the BBC has debated this decision long and hard, and I’d be interested in knowing the reasons behind it. To my mind, falling ratings is a euphamism for media euthansia, with all the ethical concerns proved correct.

Tomorrow’s World was a staple of my childhood telly viewing – and one of the few programmes I used to watch with my dad. But I’m not arguing for TW on the basis of nostalgia alone, in today’s world science is having a greater impact than ever before, and that’s only going to increase – from Dolly to hygrogen cars, mobile messaging to superstring theory, Tomorrow’s World has a place to educate young and old alike about what the future might hold.

Startrek is no substitute, and one off specials are easy enough to space … out …. so ….. much …… that ……. they …….. disappear ……… from ………. the ……….. scheduling …………altogether. A regular slot in the week allows for regular viewing, and for small items to have their space. After all, who’s to say that some small snippet today won’t be tomorrow’s sms?

…a little later….

One of the other comments on TW is that it:

“used to be = new scientist
became = daily mail “isn’t this cool?” column with no science bits”

….which strongly suggests that I am guilty of supporting what was, rather than what is. But if that’s so, then that lays the blame squarely at the doors of the BBC. It’s within their power to produce a programme which is of New Scientist quality, and I’d go so far as to say it’s expected of them under the Charter.

Choosing to axe TW suggests that they don’t want to try to maintain such high information and education standards for science on television on a regular basis, preferring to hitch their horses to the Popular Science bandwagon with the one off specials focussing on whatever gadget is flavour of the month, or has the best PR machine.

It’s the steady drip, drip, drip of information that educates – enabling the viewer to piece together a broader understanding, making the links and enjoying their own Eureka moments. Spoon feeding via the occasional science special risks leaving subjects segregated into separate pockets, some if which may seem impossibly deep to some viewers, and each with its own ring fence creating a barrier against making the connections which brings science to life, into the home and out of the lab.

The BBC has brought history into the mainstream by focussing on the social side, why can’t they do the same for science? It doesn’t need to be biographies of great inventors and scientists, that reinforces the idea that science is the preserve of priviledged, whether educationally or financially. The impact of science on society, the way in which our lives might change as a result of research or discoveries, how science moves from the theory we learn at school and which is worked on by ‘boffins in labs’ and into our daily lives, becoming the things we can consume, the things which create and shape the world we live in – this is what makes science accessible and thereby interesting to your man and woman on the Clapham Omnibus.

It’s what Tomorrow’s World did for me, with the result that I enjoy science features in the press, in magazines, on the radio and on the TV long after my schoolday studies have ended. Maybe, the optimist in me pipes up, this is what the “one off specials” will seek to achieve. I hope so.

I’ve posted my opinions on the BBC’s Current Science message board, but now I’m wondering if the Points of View messageboard isn’t going to be more effective, although I do wish I could make the case as cogently as Cait!