Ask somebody in 2004 to predict the future and they’d never be able to forecast the rise of Facebook, smartphones, Donald Trump or even Nandos. So, with that in mind, what on earth will happen in the next 15 years?
That’s the question Russell T Davies seeks to answer in new BBC1 drama Years and Years. Following Mancunian family the Lyons into the near future, the series is packed with predictions, be it social, political or technological.
We’ve rounded up our favourite crazy and futuristic forecasts. From nuclear wars to physical Snapchat filters, here’s what’s in store according to Russell T Davies…
Donald Trump is re-elected as President of the United States
The controversial leader is voted into the White House for a second term.
China builds Hong Sha Dao
Meaning the island of the red sands, this man-made landmass becomes a military base for the country. Worryingly, this development is very much anchored in reality, with China having built at least seven artificial islands by 2015.
The UK holds a general election
On Thursday 5th May, citizens go to the polls. This is no big surprise as the date is just under five years on from Theresa May’s disastrous snap election.
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom dies aged 95
Her son, Prince Charles takes the throne soon after.
Ukraine is invaded by Russian troops
After withdrawing from a G8 summit denying provoking unrest, Russian armed forces enter Kiev to “maintain stability”.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, dies
In Davies’ fictional future, the leader of the country since 2005 passes away just short of her 70th birthday.
By the end of 2024
The UK faces a refugee crisis
Following a military coup in Ukraine, the Russian army is “invited” into the country and embarks on a purge of all enemies – notably anyone LGBTQ. “98% of Ukrainians voted for Russian citizenship (if you can believe that wasn’t fixed) and now Russia’s got the name of the other 3% (whether that’s legal or not),” explains Daniel. “They’re talking about re-housing them, but they won’t give a definition of what re-housing means. Which is terrifying.”
Snapchat filters have gone physical
Augmented reality face filters – the sort you use to look like a dog – no longer exist solely on your phone. People can now buy a filter mask, allowing them to take the appearance – and voice – of an animal, baby or whatever takes your fancy.
A cup of coffee costs £12 in London
Damn you, Starbucks.
Entire areas of London are sealed off to the public
In fact, as neighbour Fran tells Daniel (Russell Tovey), you can only enter Kensington if you’re means-tested.
Transhumanism has taken off
Yes, transhumanism. In Years and Years, this means downloading the entire content of your brain and uploading it to the cloud, a procedure Bethany is keen to undergo.
“I’m not comfortable with my body so I want to get rid of it,” she explains. “This thing. The arms and legs and every little bit of it. I don’t want to be flesh. I’m really sorry, but I’m going to escape this thing and become digital.”
This is a real-life idea that was pushed forward by FM-2030 (originally born as Fereidoun M. Esfandiary), a Belgian-born Iranian-American philosopher and one of the first professors of futurology.
Pseudoscience conspiracy theories are on the rise
As we learn from Daniel’s husband Ralph (Dino Fetscher), there’s a growing body of people who buy into the ‘flat Earth hoax’, the belief the planet is shaped like a pancake. It’s a movement that’s apparently flourished after the first Flat Earth International Conference took place in 2017.
Ralph also believes in a conspiracy that germs aren’t real. This might sound like hyperbole on Davies’ part, but it’s a belief growing in America – particularly after presenter Pete Hegseth announced on Fox News he hadn’t washed his hands in 10 years as he couldn’t see the microbes.
Robots now help out with housework
As we see from Tony (Noel Sullivan), androids are now available to help out with odd jobs around the house. And, erm, other kind of jobs, too.
Fructose intolerance is now a thing
Yes, rather than gluten, Bethany is going fructose-free. As her mother Celeste explains: “What we thought was gluten intolerance was actually fructose intolerance. It’s this sugar chain thing…”
And if you’re wondering, yes, fructose IS a real thing. It’s a simple sugar found in fruits, honey and many processed foods.
It’s normal to book family members in for an appointment
In fact, judging by Bethany (a teenage member of the Lyons family played by Lydia West), it’s normal to arrange a meeting with your parents via a formal electronic invitation.
Butterflies are extinct in the UK
At least, according to grandmother Muriel (Anne Reid). Unfortunately, this isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds: in 2017, 70% of butterfly species were found to be in decline.
Schoolchildren from the age of 11 are taught pornography
Or, to give it its proper name, Sexual Awareness Imaging Control.
Not only is porn in the curriculum, but pupils also learn about the categorisation of certain people – according to Ruby (Jade Alleyne), Daniel is Category 15, a “middle-aged gay male who’s likely to mock boundaries and force sexual references into my orbit”.
The US fires a nuclear missile at China
In his last days in office, President Donald Trump fires a Trident nuclear warhead at artificial island Hong Sha Dao. This places the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland on an official war footing, with an emergency broadcast for His Majesty’s government beamed across the nation.
(This doesn’t necessarily mean the UK and China are at war – the US also possesses Trident nuclear warheads).
Years and Years airs at 9pm on Tuesdays, BBC1