Sunday, January 07, 2007

TV programing for Tomorrows World...

News that the old BBC childrens programme for adults, Tomorrws World is returning, if not in quite the same format as in days of yore, will be greeted with whoops of joy from technophobes and "huh ?" from the rest of the population.

The golden days of Tomorrows World were in the late 60's when chief presenter Raymond Baxter ruled the roost, a headmaster type figure, Baxter had been a WWII war hero, a spitfire pilot - and it showed. Tall, ramrod straight, coiffed hair in a permenant wave, Baxter had the classic BBC accent and had perfected the method of speking down to people in a way that made you pretend that you understood what he was talking about even if you didn't just so that he wouldn't get annoyed at you and give you detention.

He was joined on the programme by a man who did voiceovers to the film clips, a mysterious man who's face we never saw but who's voice would be instantly recognisable in a lift - that mans voice was the voice of the 60's, hip, trendy, I bet he wore a polo neck pullover and drove an E Type Jag and pretended to be a photographer when he chatted up the dolly birds in trendy London night clubs - I bet he once shagged Princes Margaret too.

Sorry, I got carried away in that last para.

Baxter finally got an on-screen co-presenter in the guise of James Burke. If Baxter was the headmaster then Burke was the fashionable, easily excitable, fresh faced from college, new English teacher, the one who wants to be friends with the sixth form boys and thinks that school teachers can carry off flares with a cardigan.

James Burke also headed up the BBC's presentations of all of the Apollo space missions and eventually had several of his own series presenting the history of science and discovery - these were classic BBC years and have always been what the BBC is best at.

Over the years Tomorrows Word presented the vision of what todays world would be like, I always imagined that in the year 2000 we'd all have a pair of boots that enabled us fly by means of small rockets located in the heels, and James Burke encouraged us to think in this manner. Little did we know that life in the year 2000 would be pretty much as it was in 1968, different shaped cars maybe, a few more TV channels here and there, but fundimentally the same, no rocket boots, no-one living on the moon, no-one living in floating apartment blocks way up in the stratosphere even, you still can't drive your car across the Thames without the use of a bridge, and you can't buy those inflatable boots in the shops that enabled you to walk across the Thames.

Since Tomorrows World left our screens some years ago the closest that we have come is those John Stalker adverts for motorised garage doors, "On days like these who wants to struggle with a garage door ?" in which he resurects the Raymond Baxter condescending tone for commercial gain, so it will be with some enthusiasm and a small dash of voyerism that I try and catch the new Tomorrows World insert into the News24 channel, presented by Maggie Philbin who had a spell in the original format after leaving The Multi Coloured Swap Shop when Keith Chegwin started showing more than a passing interest in her (and who can blame her, I wouldn't like Keith Chegwin to even glance at me).

I'll never take her seriously though, when was the last time she flew a spitfire in combat ?

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