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EDITIONS
 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 17:53 GMT
Tomorrow's World axed after 38 years
(L to r:) Roger Black, Kate Humble and Adam Hart-Davis
Tomorrow's World has dropped to three million viewers a show
Tomorrow's World, the BBC's long-running popular science programme, has been dropped from its weekly TV slot after almost 40 years.

BBC officials have decided not to produce another series following a long-term decline in ratings from 10 to three million per show.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it

Raymond Baxter
Instead, they will create a number of new programmes under the Tomorrow's World brand name over the coming year.

Raymond Baxter, the show's original presenter in the 1960s, questioned the BBC's decision.

"I think it's sad," said Mr Baxter, 80. "It went down quite severely, but over the last few years I thought it had got back on track.

"There's a thing in broadcasting, particularly in the BBC, where you have to change things.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The Sky At Night is a classic example - it hasn't changed one iota in 45 years."

Show's top 10 predictions
1. Breathalyser test, 1967
2. Computer banking, 1969
3. Pocket calculator, 1971
4. Digital watch, 1972
5. Personal stereo, 1980
6. Compact disc, 1981
7. Camcorder, 1981
8. Barcode reader, 1983
9. Clockwork radio, 1993
10. Mouse with human ear, 1995
Sarah Hargreaves, the show's creative director, said: "There is clearly an audience for popular science shows but Tomorrow's World needed to evolve.

"Its heyday when 10 million people were tuning in is in the past. The 7pm slot is a very difficult one these days and shows have trouble getting a good audience at that time."

The show launched in 1965. In the 1970s and 1980s, when it was hosted by Judith Hann and Howard Stableford, the show attracted audiences of more than 10 million an episode.

When Peter Snow and Philippa Forrester took over presenting duties in 1999, the show still had a respectable five million viewers.

But by the last series, which ended in August, the figure had fallen to about three million viewers a show.

Ms Hargreaves added: "We are looking to keep the time slot and fill it with different popular science shows.

Raymond Baxter at Tomorrow's World's first awards ceremony in 2000
Baxter: Awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours list
"Although Tomorrow's World will not be coming back in a weekly magazine format, the name is not disappearing."

The BBC would devote the same number of hours to popular science programming as before, Ms Hargreaves said.

Ideas being mooted for the future of the Tomorrow's World brand include one-off live shows or week-long specials.

The production team is also planning a real-life series based in a hospital casualty department.

Ms Hargreaves said: "We are looking to cover the same subjects as the old Tomorrow's World, such as medicine and new technology, but in a different format.

"Having a studio show with a line-up of presenters is the Tomorrow's World of 20 or 30 years ago and it needed to change."

The last series, which ended in August, was hosted by Adam Hart-Davis, Roger Black and Kate Humble.

The BBC is in discussions with each of them about the possibility of presenting some of the new programmes planned for 2003.

See also:

07 Mar 01 | Health
10 Oct 02 | Entertainment
05 Aug 02 | Entertainment
25 Apr 02 | Entertainment
25 Apr 02 | Health
16 Jun 99 | Business
16 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
24 Aug 02 | Entertainment
19 Feb 02 | Entertainment
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