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OU on the BBC: Electric Dreams - About the series

Updated Thursday, 17th September 2009

BBC Four gives viewers a unique insight into how developments in technology have shaped our lives over the past 40 years, in Electric Dreams, a new three-part series charting the rise of today’s globally-linked, instantly-gratified digital culture.

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Sinclair C5 Creative commons image Icon Grant Mitchell under CC-BY licence under Creative-Commons license

The series will see the world of one ordinary British family turned upside-down as their home is “renovated” to the standard of a typical house in 1970 – the dawn of the digital age – and then fast-forwarded at the rate of a day per year through the technological revolution of the 70s, 80s and 90s.

The programmes will reveal the huge transformation that technological change has wrought on British family life over the past 40 years. It remains to be seen how the children will cope when they swap Facebook and Wii for black and white television and vinyl records.

Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor for the BBC, said: “Electric Dreams is a great project that will show us very entertainingly how far we have travelled in a young person's lifetime. Many of us remember what 1970 was like, yet today's technology makes yesterday almost unrecognisable. It will be much more than a technology show however – it is contemporary social history and asks big moral questions about life in the modern world.”

Independent production company Wall to Wall has been commissioned jointly by The Open University and the BBC to make the series.

Leanne Klein, Head of Factual at Wall to Wall and Executive Producer of the show, said: “Electric Dreams is such a rich and exciting project. It doesn't just chart a technological revolution – it also reveals how family life has been totally transformed by that revolution in a very human and entertaining way. There are so many levels on which the show can be enjoyed – it blends nostalgia with rich historical content and breathes new life into the living history genre.”

Dr Ian Johnston, the Open University academic advisor to the series, said: “We are all aware of how technologically based and dependent life is today, but perhaps we have become too accustomed to the pace of change. This project provides a fascinating opportunity to rewind the clock, look at the past forty years again and take stock of where we are and how we got here – and whether all the advances have been beneficial.”

Electric Dreams is part of the Electric Revolution season aired in Autumn 2009 on BBC Four.

Passionate about technology?

The Open University has Engineering and Technology courses you might be interested in - try Engineering The Future, which takes you from design concepts through to manufacture, or the online course Design Thinking: Creativity for the 21st Century.

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