The Genius of Invention

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Visual Image

Series 1 - Episode 4 Visual Image



Tonight’s theme is photography, film and television – how inventors found ways to capture the world in images. I had never realised how almost comically clunky John Logie Baird’s original design for television was in the 1920s (it involved hat-box lids and bicycle lamps). But he did prove that “seeing by wireless” was possible, which was the crucial thing, even if in the end his slightly Heath Robinson system was abandoned in favour of the cathode-ray tube.

That’s the kind of thing you learn here. The location/studio hybrid still makes for a maddening format, full of lifeless jokes and twinkly chitchat, but the payload is worth it. And there’s interesting stuff on what makes ideas take off: rightly or wrongly, PR matters. And so, as Michael Mosley keeps insisting, does personality.


A look at the pioneers who tackled the complexities of chemistry and electronics and discovered how to capture and reproduce still and moving images. Michael Mosley, Mark Miodownik and Cassie Newland tell the stories behind the creation of photography, film and television, revealing how these inventions came about by way of sparks of innovative genius and steady incremental improvements carried out in workshops and studios. Last in the series.