For nerds of a certain age, Tomorrow's World was a mainstay of childhood. A weekly show that presented the technologies of the future and showed a glimpse of what our adult lives would be like: for the most part surrounded by helpful robots and sentient computers, living a life of ease at their expense.
That's clearly not quite how it all worked out, is it? But just how inaccurate were their predictions?
That's essentially the question that Russ & Mark and their Audit Time podcast are here to investigate. Each month (or so) they pick an episode from the 1500 odd episodes available, comment on the segments and the wondrous (or woeful) inventions paraded there, and evaluate its overall prophetic ability.
Along the way they have collected a number of Tomorrow's World tropes to also check-off for each episode, from the near constant presence of stories about oil rigs, to fanciful 2001 references, and repeated incidents of presenters having to shout to camera over deafeningly loud machinery.
The pair tally up the tropes, discuss the presentation and validity of the demonstrations (something which fails more frequently than you might expect) and follow up on what happened next whenever they're able. A lot of the technologies featured pretty much sink without a trace, but every once in a while something is shown that was revolutionary in some way or another, which is immensely satisfying. They also bring a lot of humour to the fray, poking good-natured fun at the show for its flaws and missteps, but also genuinely celebrating it when it does things well.
It's both a lighthearted ribbing and considered critique of a dated, but much loved show, and it would be fine if that was all it was, but to the credit of Russ & Mark the research they do and the effort they go to chase down the story of the technologies after the cameras stop that serves to enrich the discussion further.
It's a terrible shame that Tomorrow's World ended in 1999 after some 35 years, but it's great to spend some extended time with it again, picking apart the hits and misses of its run in the presence of two funny and informed podcasters who clearly hold a special place for it in their hearts. The duo spend around two and a half hours an episode covering its content as well as spending time talking about the world in which the episode aired, and I always look forward to it dropping in my podcast app.
They also provide a YouTube version in which their discussion is intercut with clips from the original show.