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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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BBC Four fires up time machine to find out what technology has done to us

BBC Four is giving 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.

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 Seventies, Eighties and Nineties.

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 telly 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"There are so many levels on which the show can be enjoyed – it blends nostalgia with rich historical content and breathes new life into the living history genre."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 adviser 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 40 years again and take stock of where we are and how we got here – and whether all the advances have been beneficial."

Electric Dreams (3 x 60 minutes) will form part of the season IT And Us, to be aired later this year on BBC Four.

Commissioner for the BBC: Mark Bell. Commissioner for the OU: Catherine McCarthy. Executive Producer for Wall to Wall: Leanne Klein

Notes to Editors

The Open University Partnership: The Open University and the BBC have been in partnership for nearly 40 years providing educational programming to a mass audience. This partnership has evolved from late-night programming for delivering courses to peak-time programmes with a broad appeal to encourage wider participation in learning.

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