Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available


David Pownall's drama about the life of Charles Babbage, regarded as one of the great scientific brains of the 19th century, who first conceived the computer but died a failure.

The truly extraordinary story of Charles Babbage, a forgotten genius. One of the great scientific brains of the nineteenth century, he first conceived the computer but died a despised failure. A new play by David Pownall.

This is a play with strong contemporary overtones as Babbage is forced to constantly struggle against financial cuts and restraints imposed by successive governments and a lack of investment in scientific projects.

Although failure and injustice have dogged the lives of many inventors, Babbage really took terrible revenge upon himself. At the beginning of the play, he is building his analytical engine, the prototype of the modern computer, at his house in Dorset Street, W1. When he learns his project will no longer be funded by Government, he cracks and loses the will to fight on. He is flat broke, exhausted, bitter and disillusioned. If no one wants his computer, so be it. Let the thing be scrapped. Only one friend is able to imagine the future of the computer - Ada Lovelace, Byron's daughter, poet, prophet, gambler and mathematician. Following the early death of Babbage's wife, Ada is the most important woman in his life, despite the fact that she was married to an aristocrat. Through thick and thin, illness and despair, Babbage and Ada are a team in numbers, imagination and dreams.

First broadcast in June 2013.

2 hours

Last on

Sun 22 Jun 2014 22:00


Role Contributor
Writer David Pownall
Charles Babbage Sam Kelly
Ada Lovelace Monica Dolan
Lord Lovelace Michael Maloney
Disraeli Nicholas Boulton
Wellington and Lord Aberdeen Geoffrey Whitehead
Lady Byron Frances Jeater
Marsden Robert Glenister
Jeppes Carl Prekopp
Italian Organ Grinder Andrew Branch
Composer Max Pownall
Director Martin Jenkins


Binaural sound: doing the best for Beckett

Binaural sound: doing the best for Beckett

How immersive technology brings Beckett's radio plays to life.