Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity


Series 1 - Episode 1 Sparks



Where would we be without electricity? “Our world would be dark, cold and quiet, like the beginning of the 18th century,” says Professor Jim Al-Khalili. A suitably luminous host, he takes us on a 300-year journey charting the leaps of imagination and the extraordinary experiments that led to our mastery of - and dependency on - electricity.

It’s the sort of educational but accessible series BBC4 does so well. The first of three programmes describes that initial spark, the maverick geniuses who unlocked the mysteries of electricity and harnessed what had been regarded as a divine or magical power. You may never look at an AA battery with indifference again.


Jim Al-Khalili charts the history of mankind's attempt to understand and harness the power of electricity. He begins by exploring the writings and theories of scientific innovators including Humphry Davy and Stephen Gray, and examines the methods they used to create and control electrical forces. He also tells the story of the battery, the first major breakthrough in the human race's battle to use electricity for its own ends.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Jim Al-Khalili
Director Tim Usborne
Executive Producer Tina Fletcher-Hill
Producer Tim Usborne
Series Producer Steve Crabtree