Wiring the Nation

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Episode 1 of 3

Duration: 1 hour

At the heart of Britain sits something so all pervasive we don't even notice it's there - the national electricity grid. This three-part series charts how our lives got wired and the impact electrification has had.

The opening part takes us from the epic construction of the first grid in the 1920s and 30s to the challenge of making sure there is power at the flick of a switch today. Using rare archive and vivid personal accounts it reveals the heroic efforts, architectural masterpieces and engineering achievements behind the real power map of Britain.

Contributors include author Will Self, urban planner Sir Peter Hall and grid veterans on how Britain first banished darkness and turned on the electric light.

  • Pylon

    Britain’s pylons today are still based on those designed for the original grid in the 1920s with the help of architect Sir Reginald Blomfield. The first ones were greeted with a mix of awe and opposition, and inspired Stephen Spender to write the poem ‘The Pylons’.

    Journalist Jonathan Glancey and poet Stephen Spender on pylons

Credits

Narrator
Philip Glenister
Series Producer
Gaby Hornsby
Director
Gaby Hornsby
Executive Producer
Clare Sillery

Broadcasts

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