Switching On

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Episode 2 of 3

Duration: 1 hour

From hoovers to hi-fis, from electric lifts to intensive care units - where would we be if we couldn't plug in to the national electricity grid? The second part of this history of the grid explores how switching on has transformed every part of our lives over the last 60 years.

Colour archive reveals a time when having an electric cooker was a status symbol and 'plugged in' music was revolutionary. But the grid didn't just mean gadgets - it has been central to creating a consumer society and shaping the contemporary city.

Contributors include The Shadows' guitarist Bruce Welch, author Will Self and architect Mike Davies, all talking about how electrification has sparked modern Britain into life.

  • Britain's first nuclear power station

    The Queen opened Calder Hall, Britain’s first nuclear power station, in 1956. It was a symbol of British hopes for a bright, technological future.

    There's more about the history of nuclear power in the next episode.

    Read coverage of the opening
  • Eggborough Power Station, North Humberside

    In the early days of the grid many power stations were in city centres - like Battersea in London. But after the war pressure for space forced new, bigger ones into the countryside, while improvements in grid technology meant the heavier loads they generated could be carried back again. Most of us now only glimpse power stations from train windows, like this one, or as we zip by on the motorway.


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


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