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Matthew Sweet finds out about Vril, the infinitely powerful energy source of the species of superhumans which featured in Victorian author and politician Edward Bulwer Lytton's pioneering science fiction novel The Coming Race. Although it was completely fictional, many people were desperate to believe it really existed and had the power to transform their lives.

At Knebworth House - Lytton's vast, grandiloquent Gothic mansion, where Matthew meets Lytton's great-great-great-grandson - he hears how the book was meant to be a warning about technology, soulless materialism and utopian dreams. At the Royal Albert Hall, Matthew discovers how a doctor, Herbert Tibbits, along with a handful of aristocrats, tried to promote the notion of electrical cures and the possibility of a 'coming race'.

Along the way, Matthew and his contributors consider why so many English people have been so desperate to see the fantasy of regeneration transformed into fact.

Release date:

45 minutes

Last on

Tue 11 Aug 2009 22:15



Seven images inspired by the grid

World Music collector, Sir David Attenborough

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The field recordings Attenborough of music performances around the world.

Attenborough's field recordings

Attenborough's field recordings

The unlikely music performances captured while searching for exotic animals to film.