Story Of Now arrives on BBC Taster

Story Of Now is a brand-new 20-part interactive series hosted by Idris Elba that explores some of the fundamental questions about the human condition and history of the world from the beginning of time to now, with experts in their field.

Published: 30 January 2015
The creative opportunities offered by interactive video are huge. Story Of Now has taken full advantage, seamlessly blending classic filmmaking with cutting edge technology, enabling us to reach new audiences with our world class content.
— Martin Davidson, Head of Commissioning, BBC History

Did the universe begin with the Big Bang? Can you have religious faith without the belief in God? Is the sky really blue? Can time move faster or slower? Will artificial intelligence lead to mankind’s extinction? The documentaries ask questions about the events, ideas and innovations from the past 13.8 billion years that have led to this exact moment.

The interactive films are available exclusively on BBC Taster, the BBC’s recently launched space for new and experimental ideas. Story Of Now joins exciting content on Taster from other stars such as Simon Reeve, Lena Dunham and Run The Jewels, to name just a few.

The five-minute interactive videos bring together games, web pages, slideshows, other videos and polls, all of which are interacted with inside the video. They were commissioned by the BBC and made by technology company TouchCast to explore the potential of interactive formats 

The films feature an incredible list of academics who present thought-provoking analysis on topics from language to love, money to politics and colour to consciousness. Presenters include neuroscientist Dr Molly Crockett, blind figurative painter Sargy Mann, economist Souymaya Keynes, renegade Anglican clergyman Rev Peter Owen Jones, performance poet Inua Ellams, social activist Naomi Klein and Professor Yuval Noah Harari, author of the ground-breaking Sapiens.

Martin Davidson, Head of Commissioning for BBC History, says: “The creative opportunities offered by interactive video are huge. Story Of Now has taken full advantage, seamlessly blending classic filmmaking with cutting-edge technology, enabling us to reach new audiences with our world class content.”

TouchCast Studios UK CEO and Story Of Now Executive producer, Paul Field, says: “It is entirely apt that a major series using new talent and sparking new talking points uses ground-breaking technology to throw these debates forward. In Story Of Now, viewers can interact with games, web pages, other video, slideshows, polls and 360 panoramas from inside the main film.”

BBC Taster is a place for the BBC to try new ways of telling stories, develop new talent, and put new technology through its paces. It also allows the BBC to showcase a range of editorial and technology projects that may have previously remained behind closed doors.

CD5

Story Of Now episode guide

AGRICULTURE

Social historian and environmental archaeologist Miriam Cooke asks was humanity’s greatest invention also its biggest mistake… and is it responsible for gender inequality Now? 

ART 

Sargy Mann is an artist and former lecturer in figurative art. He’s been registered blind for 25 years and explores whether we actually need to see to be able to create art Now.

COLOUR 

Is the sky really blue… or are all colours only something we think we see? Dr R Beau Lotto, who is Reader in Neuroscience at University College London, artist and founder of the Lotto Lab, addresses these questions and asks, does technology enhance our visual universe Now?

CONSCIOUSNESS 

Professor Anil Seth, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at University of Sussex, explains the science behind why we see the same things in different ways… and asks is there a way of measuring how conscious we are at this exact moment, Now? 

CREATION 

Did the universe begin with the Big Bang? Dr Martin Archer, physicist in Space Plasma Physics at Imperial College London, explores the theory and examines if it did, what came before it and what remnants of it are still with us Now? 

EARTH 

Naomi Klein is a social activist known for political analysis and author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate. She examines our relationship with the planet… and asks are we sleepwalking towards self-destruction Now?

EVERYTHING 

Why are physicists so obsessed with finding a theory of everything to explain how the universe works now? Dr Andrew Pontzen, a physicist in Space Plasma Physics at Imperial College London, presents the thinking behind the obsession Now. 

GOD 

Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Professor of Ancient Religion at Exeter University, examines why did we start believing in God and whose god should we believe in Now?

HOMO SAPIENS 

Professor Yuval Noah Harari lectures in History at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is author of the ground-breaking bestseller Sapiens. He questions what makes us so successful as a species… and are we getting smarter all the time Now? 

INFORMATION 

Edo Segal is a prolific entrepreneur and inventor. He’s CEO of bMuse, a company which uses a studio model to develop and incubate products reimagining media. He considers whether it is the sharing of information that makes us human… is social networking creating a collective consciousness... and will artificial intelligence lead to our extinction many years from Now?

LANGUAGE 

Poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams describes himself as a 'word and graphic artist’. He asks if language evolved to help us communicate, why globally do we still struggle to talk to one other, even Now? 

LIFE 

Dr Susanna Bidgood is a molecular biologist at Cambridge University and leads research in Antibody Mediated Intracellular Immunity. She explores how organic life began… and whether science has proved there is no discernible difference between living and inanimate objects Now? 

LOVE 

Ronak Patani is a performance poet who explores why it is we can’t help falling in love… and have scientists found a way to stop us falling out of it Now? 

MAPS 

Rajan Datar is Broadcast Travel Journalist of the Year 2012 and was host of Fast Track on BBC World News for six years. He discusses if there is any true map of the world... and how is it possible to be at the centre of the universe wherever you are in the world Now? 

MONEY 

Economist Soumaya Keynes is a descendent of John Maynard Keynes and Charles Darwin. She challenges how the greatest system of trust ever invented allows us to cooperate with people we don't trust at all Now? 

MORALITY 

Dr Molly Crockett, a neuroscientist studying the neural basis for morality, decision-making and altruism at Oxford University, looks at how biochemistry affects our moral decisions… and can it in fact enhance our ethical choices Now? 

POLITICS 

Timandra Harkness is a comedy writer, performer and presenter. She describes herself as an ‘irresponsible hedonist or deep humanist’ and asks how do we decide whether we're politically on the left or the right… and why does political conflict matter so much Now? 

RELIGION 

Rev Peter Owen Jones is a renegade Anglican clergyman, author and television presenter. He explores whether scientists have discovered how you can have religious faith without belief in God Now?

STORYTELLING 

Ashley Ramsden is Founding Director of the School of Storytelling, actor and international storyteller. Are stories much more than tales we tell to other people, he asks. And are they intrinsic to how we think Now? 

TIME 

Claudia Hammond, a psychologist, author of Time Warped and presenter of All In The Mind and Mind Changes on BBC Radio 4 who assesses the concept of Time… What is time? Can it move faster or slower? Or is it an illusion? And when is Now? 

Notes to editors 

  • BBC Taster can be found at bbc.co.uk/taster and on Twitter @BBCTaster
  • Story of Now can be found at bbc.co.uk/taster/projects/story-of-now 
  • TouchCast is a technology platform for the future of the video web. It allows anything from the web, including video, games, web pages and live social content, to be experienced by viewers inside HD video