Tomorrow’s Technology Today Episode 1: Computer
Painstakingly restored by Robin Catling and Victoria Pritchard, with the assistance of Studio 1919, Tomorrow’s Technology Today was a pioneering broadcast which ran from 1936 to 1939.
As a short-form, interlude show, Tomorrow’s Technology Today was intended to discuss current and future inventions, according to Lord Reith’s manifesto for public broadcasting to inform, educate and entertain.
Profoundly British, with a noticeable bias toward British inventions and inventors, many people regard Tomorrow’s Technology Today as an insignificant blip in British broadcasting history.
Key to the success of the show, was the chemistry, or lack of it, between the co-hosts, the dilettante, and some say, congenitally stupid Douglas Austin Cambridge, and the highly intellectual physics graduate, Deirdre Morris Oxford.
Douglas Austin Cambridge was employed as the senior presenter, not for any qualifications – he didn’t have any. He had been to school with the producer, Bernard ‘Bunny’ Eares.
Deirdre Morris Oxford, a quintessentially modern woman, refused to play second fiddle and frequently went off-script. Her frustration with Douglas’ inability to comprehend anything more complex than a cigarette lighter can often be heard in the recordings.
What also made Tomorrows Technology Today remarkable, was the use of vox-pop recordings of the public – the average ‘man in the street’. Although the first of these, chimney sweep George Lampson, was run over by the motor car of the Home Secretary. Apparently standing in the middle of the street was a bad idea.
The programme was halted abruptly by the outbreak of World War Two, when the War Office decided many military technical developments might be leaked on the air.
Tomorrows Technology Today ran from 1936 to 1939, but only a handful of episodes have survived, thanks to the Herbert Maxwell Fosdyke Curmudgeon Memorial Sound Archive.
These recordings are recovered from a box of old 78′s found in the shed belonging to sound engineer Reginald Blodgett after his death. Up to this point, it was thought that no recordings had survived the War.
The HMFC Memorial Sound Archive is appealing to the public to donate any other recordings that may exist to extend the collection.