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Protecting the Earth

Dr Tilly Blyth on the unease of nuclear technology amidst a new awareness of a fragile planet Earth, captured in the mystical 1980's landmark TV drama Edge of Darkness

The landmark BBC TV drama Edge of Darkness by creative screenwriter Troy Kennedy Martin, became a gritty but nuanced thriller, exploring many powerful themes that dominated cultural and political life in the early 1980’s - from the secrecy of the nuclear state, to the hopes and fears unleashed by the growing tide of global environmentalism.

As Tilly Blyth reveals, the spiritual and scientific inspiration that gives the drama its much lauded spiritual and mythical quality arises from the Gaia hypothesis by maverick scientist James Lovelock. His controversial concept of the Earth as a system in equilibrium, divided environmental scientists. But as Tilly discovers, through the Lovelock archives held in the Science Museum Group collections, Lovelock’s “Daisyworld” model of the Earth’s ability to regulate itself, gave the hypothesis a growing degree of credibility. Edge of Darkness would embrace this power of Gaia leading to a poignant and dramatic climax, and become one of the most critically acclaimed TV series of the decade.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum

Available now

14 minutes

Broadcast

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