Gordon Welchman - The Forgotten Genius of Bletchley Park
Aired 7 September, available to catch-up on BBC iPlayer
This documentary tells the story of a key codebreaker who helped shorten World War II by two years, but who was subsequently written out of history and whose legacy has since been forgotten.
Gordon Welchman was a visionary who, 70 years ago, foresaw the technologies that define our own time and who deserves credit, along with Alan Turing, for the incredible success of British code breaking during the war.
Welchman created the ‘industrial’ system at Bletchley Park that enabled Britain to read German messages before even the enemy high command, as well as other key technological improvements. He added the ‘diagonal board’ which much improved Turing’s design for code breaking the German’s Enigma machine which sent messages in cypher; he pioneered traffic analysis which enabled him to map the entire German military from their communications; and he had huge impact on the Battle of the Atlantic, on the hunt for the Bismarck, and on the successful deception around the D-day landings.
His wartime work on ‘traffic analysis’ was the godfather of the methods that trapped Osama Bin Laden and after the war he was one of the inventors of the first ever cloud-based communication system, still in use by the US military today. But he also began a system of intelligence-gathering that led directly to GCHQ, the NSA - and the revelations by Edward Snowden that western agencies were listening in on us all.
After the war, Welchman moved to America, and worked at the heart of the military industrial complex. But it was his decision, on retirement, to reveal the details of this wartime work in a book, that led to his persecution by the British and American governments. He believed the public needed to understand the power of code-breaking. But three years after the book was published, Welchman was dead, and his name was rapidly erased from the story of Bletchley Park.
Six Degrees of Separation – 14 September
Prof Brian Cox expands your mind with a new panel show. He's joined by comedians Ben Miller and Hugh Dennis, who each lead a team of scientists as they compete to find the scientific connections between six unlikely objects.
It’s BBC Make It Digital, so they’ll start with an analogue record player, and attempt to find the link to Galileo, a dung beetle, whipped cream, the inner Earth and finally, end at all things Digital. A dung beetle obstacle race and exploding bags of custard are among the scientific experiments that help the teams find the links.
Ben is joined by mathematician Dr Hannah Fry and geneticist Prof Steve Jones, while Hugh is aided and abetted by anatomist Professor Alice Roberts and theoretical physicist Prof Jim Al-Khalili.
The Gamechangers – 15 September
The Gamechangers starring Daniel Radcliffe is a 90-minute factual drama that goes behind the scenes of the hit video game Grand Theft Auto, arguably the greatest British coding success since Bletchley Park.
In Autumn 2013, the game’s latest iteration – GTA: V – earned $1bn in just three days, becoming the fastest-selling entertainment product in history. But this drama goes back to 2002, to tell the story of a three-year period of intense controversy in the history of this iconic game's development. It happened when two passionate men on either side of a high-stakes cultural divide clashed. This conflict, between the creative genius behind the game and a self-styled crusader for American morality, escalated into a fight for the hearts, minds and freedoms of an entire gaming generation.
The Gamechangers tells the story of how British game designers pushed boundaries into uncharted territory, of how those fighting GTA became consumed by a battle which overwhelmed their lives, and how the subsequent fallout threatened to bring down leading players on both sides.
Girls Can Code – 15 & 22 September
Girls Can Code is a two-part BBC Three talent show with a difference - the girls taking part don’t think they’ve got the talent for it! Radio 1’s Alice Levine takes five girls who can take selfies, to see if they can take on the male-dominated world of digital technology.
East End girl Ellie, art student Daisy, science boffin Neelam, fashion grad Tolani and wannabe millionaire Arooj go on a crash course in the testosterone-fuelled worth of tech, to see if they can buck the trend and get a slice of the action.
The girls are set a simple challenge: to come up with a viable tech business idea in just two weeks. Along the way girls are helped by some of the most successful and inspirational people in the UK tech industry - including millionaire entrepreneur and tech-business founder Alex Depledge, who joins Alice and the girls every step of their way.
Horizon: Are Video Games Really That Bad? – 16 September
Horizon: Are Video Games Really That Bad? on BBC Two goes behind the headlines – meeting the scientists, industry experts and programmers to investigate the truth about video games. Sorting the fact from fiction, the programme scrutinises the latest controversial research and also discovers whether video games could actually be good for you.
Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing – 17 September
In Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing on BBC Four mathematician Hannah Fry explores the remarkable life of Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and the world’s first computer programmer.
Hannah discovers how this aristocratic young lady came to be a prophet for our digital age. She’ll find out how she became involved with the design of the first computer - the Analytical Engine. Not only did Ada publish the first computer programme, she also created a manifesto for the information age. More than any of her contemporaries, she saw them as more than mere number crunchers. Ada even speculated that one day computers would compose music.
Hannah concludes that it was only because Ada was the daughter of Lord Byron that she alone had the imagination, her 'poetical science', to foresee the true power of computers."
In Case You Missed It - 23 September
Your favourite shows, like you’ve never seen them before. A brand new 30 minute TX Pilot for BBC Two. Presented by Dara Ó Briain, the show is a unique twist on the traditional TV digest format. All the shows featured have been completely made up or mashed up – and the viewers’ comments and guest interviews are all scripted comedy.
All the clips featured in the show have been manipulated using a variety of digital editing techniques to create a completely new context. These techniques include re-cutting and re-ordering sync and visuals; shooting alternative cutaways; removing, replacing or distorting music; or combining two or more different shows to create something completely new. As well as creating these in-house, we are using the very best online talent who each bring a different digital skill and approach to the show, sharing our secrets of how to share a mash-up online.
The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms – 24 September
Also on BBC Four, The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms sees Professor Marcus du Sautoy look into the ultimate potential of algorithms and whether there is any capacity of the human mind that they can’t reproduce.
Most people do not realise it, but our lives are touched by algorithms every day. They are ubiquitous, yet most of us are completely unaware of their extraordinary impact on our daily lives.
Algorithms control what we read, the products we buy, and with whom we socialise. They know when to stock supermarket shelves, can predict the weather, and create connections around the planet at the speed of light. Algorithms can guide a surgeons hand, build works of art, and even ignite the spark of love. Marcus lifts the lid on the largely unknown, unseen world of algorithms to reveal the vital roles they play in modern life.