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Tomorrow’s World was designed as a showcase for scientific invention. And there are two main reasons why so many viewers tuned in.
One is in the hope that one of the live experiments would go wrong (they frequently did), and the other was because for many years it was on immediately before Top of the Pops. So youngsters would plough through Raymond Baxter just to get to Gary Glitter.
Baxter, a former WWII pilot, was the mainstay of the show for 12 years, but in 1977 he left, having fallen foul of new young editor Michael Blakstad, who had described Baxter as ‘the last of the dinosaurs’.
Baxter allegedly commented that he couldn’t work with someone who rode a bicycle to work.
Other presenters included James Burke, Su Ingle, Michael Rodd, Maggie Philbin, Judith Hann, Kieran Prendiville, Peter Macann, Howard Stableford and Anna Ford.
Anna joined in 1977 but no less than six months later, after stating that she had “no wish to be a public figure”, she departed to ITN and fame as their first female newsreader.
One of the most awkward situations on Tomorrow’s World occurred when a lady was demonstrating a new portable bath. In the best BBC tradition, she was suitably concealed with bubbles – until the heat from the studio lights began to melt the foam.
By the late 1990s, the live studio demonstrations were dropped in favour of purely pre-recorded items. The final series, presented by Adam Hart-Davis, Kate Humble and Roger Black, attempted to revert back to the original live format of the show, even using a remix of one of the theme tunes used during its more successful years.
But ratings continued to fall and – with only three million viewers in the last series – the BBC decided to axe the show.